Being very young and very lonely in France part II

We are continuing our discussion about Loneliness in the Young French citizenry.

Based on their individual and familiar evolution, the researchers distinguished four basic types of profiles. They are:

I—Inhibited Lonely people

These youngsters have encountered problems during childhood (family or school violence) and suffer of loneliness. Their early isolation has hampered their ability to develop lasting relationships of trust. Defiantly, they only care to have a few friends, and they usually cannot rely on their families. Their primary objective is to access an independent status (employment, lodging, mobility) which is a prerequisite for their social integration.

II—Resigned Lonely people

These youngsters had the same harmful conditioning stimuli than the first group, but their plight extended into early adulthood for which they recoiled into their inner sanctum, i.e. their nuclear families. Safely cocooned there, they seem not to suffer from their isolation, which is of paramount importance for their sense of well-being. They strive to maintain the equilibrium in their family bonding.

III—Assumed Lonely people

These youngsters do not suffer the crippling conditioning in their childhood but when entering their early adult age, they voluntarily decide, for professional, familiar, or geographic reasons, to limit the physical interaction in their friendly network. They feel fine with their arrangements to “have friendship at a distance.”

IV—Wounded Lonely people

These young people were first exposed to loneliness in their early adulthood when they face failure in their studies, work, marriage, etc. They feel “en décalage” vis-à-vis their pairs and believe that they lost friends due to their real or imagined failures. Retreating into the safety of a solid core of vetted friends, they hope to make a comeback after they have resolved their issues and are ready to meet new people.

The terrible worldwide SARS-Cov-2 pandemic, and its associated Social Isolation, for the past two years has significantly compounded the loneliness situation of young people all over the globe, including the more developed societies like France. In an article dated December 7, 2021, Axelle Davezac, General Director of the Fondation de France wrote: “The Public Health crisis has shaken our daily lives, our projects, our relationships with other people. For a year already, another epidemic has stealthily diffused: the loneliness, which hits one person over four. And the youngsters were not spared, as 21% of them have come across a situation of isolation in 2021, and a third of young people claim that they feel alone quite frequently.” Precisely at the very same early age where the cardinal sociability rules and tenets of material independence are cemented, two protracted years of Social Isolation have hit the 15 to 30 years old-age group. She claimed that 21% of young people were in a situation of compromised relationships due to isolation, more than nine points than data from one year before. The quality of their relationships with their entourage had degraded during this period, ushering a feeling of loneliness quite pronounced; one third of the French youngsters said that they usually felt alone, twelve points more than the median for the French population at large.

Note. This reproduction of Toulouse Lautrec’s Une amie de Suzanne Valedon was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

There are two major post-pandemic digital concerns for Very Young People:

I—La peur du décrochage

Many young people in their formative years are experiencing the fear of becoming disconnected, either because access to fast Internet services is often expensive in our societies or they have a tough time to buy the needed software and applications. They feel as if anytime, unexpectedly, a sinister hand could “pull the plug” of their connectivity and leave them totally stranded in the digital pathways of Life.

II—L’angoisse de l’écran

She also had some troubling words for all those that had to endure the attendance of study and college courses through web connections, without any physical interaction with their fellow students and teachers for months on end. She said: “But the anguish has also invaded all those who, alone in front of their screens have experienced growing difficulties to self-motivate, to grasp the content of the courses, to establish contacts with their fellow students and teachers.”

We will continue discussing these critical issues in articles soon to be uploaded.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Being very young and very lonely in France part I

-“Doctor…Scores of great Parisian girls feel miserably alone like me—we need much more gorgeous men like you to rescue us.”

Alina X. is a knockout blonde-blue eyed Slavic young woman who, through her sheer business acumen and manifold efforts, became the owner of a luxury fashion store in the most coveted neighborhood of Paris: le 16th arrondissement, where rich people live and play. We met her last week because she saw our humble profile in a dating app and contacted us for friendship and … je ne sais pas quoi. When we read her personal summary, we could not believe our eyes. When we started chatting, she quickly “spilled the beans” on moi. She told us that her case of romantic loneliness is not an isolated one as there are thousands upon thousands of gorgeous Parisian ladies that cannot find a suitable partner due to men’s proverbial imbecility and sickly obsession with sex. We suggested to her to read our new book  Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague.

Note. This reproduction of Marcel Dega’s L’Absynthe was taken from Wikimedia Images.

By Edgar Degas – Google Art Project: Home – pic Maximum resolution., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20303082

One of the signs that there might be something afoot in La Ville Lumière is the considerable number of beautifully manicured dogs and cats that you see paraded by their young owners. As for lonely individuals (and not couples)  in New York City and other large American cities, it usually comes down to an empirical rule of thumb (similar in its smart crudeness to the one women used for ages inversely linking the cylinder potency of a guy’s car and the size of his penis)

Show me how far you go to prep your doggie and I will guess how empty your Romancing attic is.

By some accounts, almost half of the Parisian population, are now living without a sentimental partner. How can this be? A study by the Fondation de France has shed some light on this issue.

 Commissioned by the above-mentioned foundation, the Centre de Recherche pour l’Étude et l’Observation des Conditions de Vie (CREDOC) conducted in 2017 a survey of French citizens aged 15 to 30 years old to find the causes and incidence of loneliness in this age group. In this humongous survey, 18% of the individuals aged 15 to 30 years were interviewed to ascertain their objective situation regarding their social isolation and vulnerability. They can only count on one social network (12%) or none (6%) These individuals have scant social interactions and very limited ones with their families, friends, neighbors, associated members, professionals, college or schools, etc. They found that 1, 4 million of young Frenchmen and Frenchwomen have only one social network and 700,000 have none at all. There are four levels:

I—Friendship level

It is the very first level of sociability for humans. They found that 77% of individuals aged 15-30 years old (60% of all the French individuals with a similar age) develop this kind of sociability. 65% of individuals aged 15-30 years old develop dense contacts with family members that do not live with them (47% of French individuals of similar age)

II – Neighborly level

Contrary to popular lore that assumes that lonely young people do not talk with their neighbors, they found that 49% of the 15-30 years old do have regularly engaged exchanges with their neighbors.

III – Associative level

They found that a large number (40%) have a high level of participation in social institutions, including political parties, charity organizations, clubs, etc.

IV—Labor and Study level

One in two individuals aged 15 to 30 years old socialize outside their work or college environments with their colleagues. They found that 79% of the students aged 15 to 30 years old have social contact with their fellow students outside the classrooms.

In the 15 to 30 years old there is paradoxically more social isolation for the young adults than for the younger members of the group. There are four reasons:

  1. Absence of family Life and Sentimental Bonding. They found that 39% of young individuals aged 15 to 30 years old live less frequently with family members (against 46% of the greener individuals) and have less romantic bonding (20% against 35% of the greener individuals)
  2. Degraded lodging and transport privileges. They found that only 53% of Isolated young adults in that group are satisfied their lodging arrangements, compared to 63% of the younger members of this group. Only 45% of Isolated young adults are satisfied with their transportation arrangements compared with 53% of the younger members of that age group.
  3. Lower level of studies. They found that 13% of the isolated young adults have a college degree against only 8% of the younger members of their group.
  4. Higher level of unemployment. They found that 22% of the isolated young adults are unemployed compared to 12% of the younger members.
  5. Lower incidence of alcohol and cannabis consumption. They found that 36% of the isolated young adults do not consume alcohol compared to only 23% of the younger members; 85% of the isolated young adults do not consume cannabis against 79% of the younger members.
  6. Addiction to the little screens. They found that there is s higher incidence of this addiction in the younger members, with more than fours per day on average.

Based on this data they divided the isolated French 15 to 30 years-old in four groups, which are extremely relevant for individuals in other modern societies as well. Do not miss Part II of this article. We will discuss these four groups and the different value assigned to their failures.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Are face masks still necessary?

“To wear a face mask. Or not to wear it. That is the question.”

On March 29, 2022, Adeel Hassan wrote an article in The New York Times saying that: “The highly contagious Omicron subvariant known as BA.2 , which led to a surge of coronavirus cases in Europe, is now the dominant version of new US. cases…Last week, the World Health Organization reiterated that BA.2 was the dominant version of Omicron around  the world.”

Despite the humongous pressure exerted in Washington, D.C., by the extremely powerful Transportation and Entertainment lobbies, the Center for Diseases Control (CDC) extended the draconian mask mandates for two more weeks until May 3rd. Even though we are tired of all the pandemic restrictions, we understood the logic of that directive for precaution in the face of an unknown threat still brewing out. New coronavirus cases started to uptick lately, with thousands of people becoming infected.  However, the more widespread coverage of the vaccines and the booster shots has markedly limited the hospital admissions and the morbidity; therein lies the danger that the real impact of the BA.2 variant is being under-counted as many patients consider it “a bad flu” and oftentimes ride it out, without even getting a test.

On April 18. 2022, Florida Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the mask mandate in a 59-page decision arguing that the agency had exceeded its legal authority under the Public Health Act of 1944. As soon as her decision was published officials , the Transportation authorities said that they could not enforce the mask provision in airports, bus and train stations, airplanes under the US jurisdiction, etc. We saw in the newscasts how as soon as flight attendants announced the decision over the airplanes’ loudspeakers, which provoked great joy in the cabins, the passengers started to unmask and swing their masks in the air in sigh of defiance.

Do we still need to wear masks for safety precautions? The answer is Yes and No.

Most Public Health experts agree that for fully vaccinated people that are in open spaces like the street, parks, outdoor cafes, etc., there is no need for them at present. However, the tighter the proximity with other human beings becomes, the greater need for wearing a mask to avoid infection. First of all, customers must respect the guidelines set by the businesses they patronize. A sign at the door that demands to wear a mask, must be respected, especially to avoid violent situations with staff. In an indoor space with great ventilation and tall ceilings, the need is relative. However if there are too many people inside and the physical space is limited, it is advisable to wear a mask. How do we asses if there is enough ventilation? Simple. If your nostril receptors can easily catch the various smells originated in human activities, like smoking, then the ventilation is poor indeed. Better to wear a mask then. Similarly even if there is not a Federal Mandate to wear a mask inside a plane at present, who would be foolish enough to risk a business trip or a family vacation? Sadly from the looks of it, there are plenty of people willing to play that Lottery.

The critical issue of demanding schoolchildren to wear masks is much trickier. First of all, children under 5 years rarely become sick of Covid 19, except for some tragic cases. Forcing students to wear masks inside the classrooms can be a self-defeating proposition as the children pull out their masks in the recesses to play together. Moreover, the USA has been somewhat of an outlier in this issue as most modern nations did not oblige Kindergarten and Primary School students to wear them.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

Safeguarding our Gut Microbiome after the pandemic

-“Doctor…During that homely seclusion, we ate too much junk—feel intoxicated.”

Claire X. is a smart, well-educated, middle-aged lady that, besides pursuing a successful career in the Finance sector, prides herself in taking loving care of her husband and their three children. She has always made sure that they would all eat  a Mediterranean diet save for occasional permissiveness usually on weekends. However, the brutal Social Isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has imploded so many paradigms of our former lives, also compromised their eating.

What used to be the Saturday Night loaded pizza became bi-weekly. Pourquoi pas ? What used to be the rare All the Works-Burger became a regular. Pour quoi pas? What used to be the fab Strawberry Smoothie became a lunch staple. Pour quoi pas?

The unhealthy cloistering with limited social contact not only brought a retinue of Mental Health disorders ranging from Anxiety/Depression to more serious pathologies, but also  had the collateral effect of compromising the safeguards we have been building for decades to improve our lifestyles. We ate food with too much salt, sugar, ultra-processed items. And way too often.

The microbiome is the sum of the bacterial and viral populations that reside inside our bodies, with mostly beneficial effects and some occasional deleterious ones. They are trillions of microorganisms that coexist peacefully in our Digestive System and in other organs, The majority of these organisms are symbiotic, which means that our bodies and these invited guests collaborate to promote our healthy status. In rare occasions they become pathogenic, which means that they promote diseases. A nice report from the Harvard School of Public Health stated: “Each person has an entirely unique network of microbiota that is originally determined by one’s DNA. A person is first exposed to microorganisms as an infant, during delivery in the birth canal ands through the mother’s breast milk. Exactly which microorganisms the infant is exposed to depends solely on the species found in the mother. Later on, environmental exposures and diet can change one’s microbiome to be either beneficial to health or place one at greater risk for disease.”

In order to ensure that we have the right amount and variety of microbiome, we can use the probiotics, which are foods naturally containing them or live active bacteria. It is a multi-billion industry in the USA, which is largely unregulated because they are considered as “mere food” and not drugs, escaping the regulatory enforcement of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Even thought the scientific data is still inconclusive, they might have a beneficial effect on younger and older patients.

Food with a high content of fiber can only be broken down in the lower segments of the colon, which means that the release of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) from the fermentation process will lower the pH of the gut. As a result dangerous bacteria like Clostridium difficile will not find a proper environment to grow and cause harm. Certain foods contain copious amounts of indigestible carbohydrates and fibers such as garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, artichokes, bananas, beans, oats, barley. They are dubbed as prebiotic because they provide the raw material for the probiotic elements. Taken in excess, they might cause excessive bloating and flatulence.

Note. This image of the Microbiome was taken from Wikimedia Images and originated in the American Gut Project based on the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

Keeping our bespoke microbiome system in decent shape is also essential to recover form the deleterious effects of the Covid-19 pandemic as there is a direct ink between the clinical status of our Digestive System and the integrity of our Respiratory System. Dr. Tim Spector, professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College in London, UK, wrote in a review: “recent research has shown that the gut microbiome plays an essential role in the body’s immune response to infection and in maintaining overall health. As well as mounting a response to infectious pathogens like coronavirus, a healthy gut microbiome also helps to prevent potentially dangerous immune over-reactions that damage the lungs and other vital organs.” These interactions are not yet fully understood by scientists, but it has been proven that gut bacteria produce many critically needed chemicals and activate the Vitamin A in our food, which helps to regulate the immune system.”

In order to be effective, a microbiome must be diverse; however as we age, that diversity declines. For that very reason, a good diet becomes of paramount importance in the latter stages of our lives. We should eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains, extra virgin oil, lean meat, and fish. We should restrict our intake of salt, sugar, alcohol , carbonated drinks, and sweets. And of course we should eat naturally resourced food with no additives or artificial sweeteners.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Defensive value of Anxiety

-“Doctor….I feel so anxious all day long—it is destroying me from inside.”

Thelma X. is an outstanding middle-aged lady that has been smartly juggling the demands of a successful criminal lawyer career and a beautiful family, married to another another lawyer who is so, so devoted to their couple that he does not mind rolling up his sleeves to fix dinner or breakfast for their two kids when she is late. She has all the blessings that a modern woman wants for her family but somehow…

Her dedication to her family and career makes her experience almost daily episodes of that most common of human emotions: Anxiety. Prodded by seemingly excessive uncertainty even in the most banal episodes of life, humans experience it when they have unusually intense and excessive emotional reactions to those common, and in certain circumstances exceptional, episodes of their treks through Life’s trails. Why would Mother Nature endow us with a biological response that seems deleterious? It is in fact an alert system that keeps us vigilant. Especially for all the women that are so heroically keeping our societies functioning on a daily basis by exposing themselves in the service and education sectors where there is always close contact with the public, without much ado.

Thank you to our dearest women for, yet again, showing us who has the Real Balls in society.

Note. This reproduction of Edouard Manet’s A Bar Girl at the Folies-Bergères done in 1882, at the height of La Belle Epoque in Paris, was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

In 1908, Robert Means Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson published an article where they claimed that the best task performance occurs at an intermediate level of arousal, with sub-optimal responses at both the lower and higher ends of the Arousal Spectrum. This produces an inverted U curve, which means that the beneficial effects of Anxiety eventually peak and after reaching the top, they begin to progressively diminish. They also found this peak occurs at lower levels for easy tasks compared to the peaks for more difficult ones. The Yerkes – Dodson Law.

Anxiety is a necessary component of our biological shield to function better in our societies, much more critical now that the Post-Pandemic World has changed many paradigms of our daily existences at home, work, public spaces, institutions, etc. What can we do to counterbalance its untoward effect? We must activate another one of our inborn defense mechanisms: the Parasympathetic System. What our mothers and grandmothers intuitively taught us at home is based on sound scientific evidence. First of all, take a deep, deep breath. Then go out to take some fresh air to activate the Serotonin and Dopamine receptors in our brains. Remember them?

A moderate dose of Anxiety will keep us safe in these uncertain, unpredictable post-Pandemic times. Last week, a homeless woman burst into the front door of the Miami medical center where we have been working for the past ten years. She was shouting at the top of her lungs that she felt sick and that she needed immediate attention. The security guard smartly summoned the Manager On duty by radio and try to contain the patient. When the triage nurse told her that she would have to be rigorously evaluated before seeing a physician, she went wild. She dashed to the front desk and with some incredible acrobatics, she jumped across it, to the dismay of the on-duty clerks. She raced across the hallways until she reached an office and blocked the door. One of our assistants was alone preparing for a procedure, unmasked. This woman started to cough in our assistant’s face and, was finally reduced by the summoned police officers after a too long-ten minute-tense standoff. Handcuffed, she was tested with a PCR, which was positive; our assistant has been testing negative so far. Who could have imagined to live such an ordeal when we showed up for work?

One of the worst collateral effects of this prolonged pandemic worldwide has been the massive release of Mental Health patients into our streets because either the caretakers disappeared or kicked them out into the street, or more ominously, the institutions begun to quietly discharge them due to tight budgets. We will address this Public Health issue in an upcoming blog.

We cannot trust anybody with our personal security out there in the street anymore.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

Post-Covid 19 Chronic Anxiety syndrome

-“Doctor….I’m not feeling well. Losing my temper. Can’t sleep…So much anxiety- what’s going on?”

Celia X. is a proficient and dedicated nurse of a major Fort Lauderdale hospital who had consulted us for resilient Migraine Headaches many years ago but then chose another practitioner, closer to her residence in Broward County. As she has been a loyal reader and fan of this web page, she called us a few days ago to congratulate us for the publication of our new book. From the start she started “spilling he beans’ and confessed to us that, even though she has been spared the worst ravages of this terrible pandemic at the personal. labor, financial and social levels, she was still not feeling right. Her live-in migraines and depression worsened with the arrival of a new boarding buddy: Anxiety.

We told her that, in a major or minor degree, it is a common situation for almost all of us and that she should not despair. Slowly but surely we will al come out of this protracted, insufferable, cruel Social Isolation that has wrecked the Mental Health of millions of humans across the World. We counseled her to deal with one little problem at a time and not overburden her daytime with too many objectives at work and home, like she had finely done before the pandemic struck us. We also encouraged her to continue chatting about these issues with family, friends, counsellors, etc., because the mere act of “bringing it out into the open” will bring her some balsamic relief and give her new perspectives by analyzing their input. She told us that after just chatting with us for a few minutes, she was already feeling a little bit better. As the French psychologist Jacques Lacan said:

“Dans tout acte manqué, il y a un discours réussi.”

(In every failed act, there is a successful address)

Note. This reproduction of Claude Monet’s Camille Monet on a park bench was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WLA_metmuseum_Camille_Monet_on_a_Garden_Bench_by_Claude_Monet.jpg

Here is an excerpt of our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague where we discuss it:

“Once the lockdown is levied, many of the once thriving small businesses that used to predominantly employ women will be gone. And there will be hardly any credit for entrepreneurial initiatives as the banks will be reluctant to lend. Not only did women hold most of the jobs of Education and Health Care —the hardest hit economic sectors—but they were also furloughed in greater numbers than men…

A large proportion of them are single parents of the Latino and Black Minority groups. These disadvantaged single women, lacking adequate social/family support, rely on their children’s school services for their care, instruction, and meals. If they cannot take their kids to school, they will not be able to resume their former duties.

The same chronic anxieties pervading the workplaces may foster a creeping loss of libido and eroticism in many blue collars’ bedrooms. On the other hand, women with a “hot” privileged spot in the upcoming New World Order will be less amenable to passivity, demanding equal rights inside and outside the bedroom. Moreover, after months of this pandemic and its Social Isolation, our nerves are so frayed that we are seeing in our offices a rising number of patients sick with a depression associated with high anxiety—the Post Covid 19 Chronic Anxiety syndrome.

Has my world become dangerous? Will I keep my job? Will I find a partner?

Can I safely touch this person? Did I clean my groceries carefully enough?”

We will address specific issues of this critical clinical condition for different age, ethnic and socio-economic groups in our upcoming Wellness articles and Podcasting . Stay tuned for much more.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

We got the Pfizer-BioNtech booster shot!

Dear readers and fellow bloggers;

Good morning. Yesterday, my son Gian Luca and myself got the third dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine in the brand new Walgreens store located in Calle Ocho and Eight Avenue of Miami. 

In this picture you can see how a lovely technician called Elleny (very beautiful but too shy to allow us to take a simple screenshot of hers) administers the so-called booster shot of that vaccine.

Thank you very much for taking care off us with great diligence and patience for this important step.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Are booster shots for COVID 19 vaccines necessary right now?

Rationing of Health Care Resources is that miserable member of the Public Health family that is always pushed to the kiddies’ table in the bacchanal feast of American Health Care delivery , never to be mentioned in the polite conversation of its policymakers, physicians, wonks, etc. Le Sans Nom. Unlike the United Kingdom, where the criteria for use of scarce resources like kidney dialysis are way up front and totally assumed, in the USA we tend to tiptoe around this issue in a hypocritical, yet popular dance. We discussed this issue at length in our Columbia University Doctoral thesis.

Note. This reproduction of John Raphael Smith‘s picture of Edward Jenner, the English inventor of the modern vaccination techniques, was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edward_Jenner.jpg

On September 20, 2021, Ariana Eunjung Chua and Meryl Kornfeld wrote in the Washington Post that: “Kristen Solana Walkinshaw, a physician on the coronavirus triage committee at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, found her team making one of the most agonizing decisions of their careers…Four patients needed continuous kidney dialysis, her colleague explained, but only two could be made available. How should I choose?”

The recent surge of the Delta variant affecting the scandalously high number of unvaccinated people that need immediate hospitalizations in the USA, has made the issue of the booster shots for the mRNA vaccines for Covid 19 much more relevant. Boosting might be eventually necessary in the general population that has already gotten the two-dosages of the mRNA mediated -vaccines due to the waning immune responses and the potential inefficacy of vaccines against newly surging variants.

On September 17, 2021, a scientific panel of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that the booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine (Moderna has not yet submitted all the needed documentation) should be given to persons older than 65 years old, the immunocompromised and those with direct exposure to sever cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection only. The rest has to keep waiting. After Dr, Fauci publicly announced that there might be a need for a third booster shot , imprudently kowtowing to the undiplomatic move by the Biden administration to start offering them after September 20, this issue turned vitriolically political. How can Father-Knows-Best-Joe, who claimed in is campaign rallies that he would always follow science once he was in government, dared to put his chariot of convenience in front of the Faulkerian horse of tasking? Did you start lying, Papa Joe?

On September 13, 2021, an article in the Financial Times reported that: “two top scientists who recently announced their retirement form the US drug watchdog  have criticised the policy of giving most people Covid 19-booster vaccinations, just days before the Biden administration plans to start doing so. Philip Krause and Marion Gruber, who resigned from the Drug and Food Administration two weeks ago, are among the authors of a scathing critique of widespread booster shots…”

Those two scientists joined a large group of colleagues that, in an Overview article of The Lancet on September 13, 2021, to make the point that the available scientific data so far does not justify the use of booster shots, except in special circumstances. They propose to use the available resources to boost the public vaccination drive for millions of people in the USA and elsewhere that have yet not had their first shot. They show their open disgust at the maladroit move of politicians to soil their turf.

In a personal level, let us confess that after being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine since February, we will take advantage of that opportunity due to our age. Our immunity might still be good and not a cause of concern….We follow Social Distancing guidelines…Mmm… However….

En tout cas.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Crying Alone in the Bathroom as a coping mechanism in the Pandemic

-“Doctor…Why didn’t we insist that he should get the vaccine—feel so guilty.”

Maria X. is a brave and tenacious middle-aged homemaker with a loving husband and two gorgeous teenagers, having worked tirelessly since they immigrated to the USA from Cuba in that infamous Mariel exodus. Since they arrived in South Florida, we have been good friends and they even visited our medical office several times.

Her husband, very confused by the false mantra of the social media liars and anti-vaccination wackos decided that they should all wait until the mRNA vaccines got the final expert approval to do the only know way to avoid disease: get vaccinated. They did observe the basic rules of Social Distancing and wore the needed mask. However, all those precautions were for naught as one of his store customers got infected with the dangerous Delta variant in early July and passed it on to him.

Yesterday I garnered enough courage to visit him in the Intensive Care Unit where he has been hospitalized for a week already, with plenty of machines whirring away. Heavily sedated, he could open his eyes to welcome me when the nurse told him. Deeply distraught, I went to the waiting area where his loving family had been keeping vigil day and night, praying to God Almighty and expecting a miracle. When his children saw me approaching, they raced to embrace me and cry in my arms.

After forty years of continuous and varied medical practice, I believed that there would be few things that could shake me to the very bone. I was wrong. That did. I tried to talk them out of their despair and re-assure them that there was still hope. Pushing away at an almost irrepressible desire to cry together, I did what most of us, physicians, have doing during this terrible ordeal. Stiffen my upper lip and carry on. After talking a few minutes with Maria in a discreet corner, I invented an excuse and promised them that I would return. I skedaddled down the hallway to the nearest bathroom.

I cloistered myself in the loo and slumped on a covered toiled seat. I welled up in earnest.

Note. This reproduction of Rembrandt’s Weeping Woman was taken from Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt_A_Weeping_Woman.jpg

Ever since the sanitary facilities were invented in the nineteenth century, they have been used as a clandestine hiding place by women. But now men are catching up fast. The following text is an excerpt of my upcoming book Emotional Frustration – the hushed plague.

—”Doctor…I hide in the bathroom—so my children can’t hear me cry.”

Susan X. is a nice, intelligent, and hard-working mother of a small child who must shoulder the entire burden of her household all alone, even though she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Her husband works as a salesman and has had a chronic back problem since he was injured in a previous stint as a truck driver.

Her family cannot help her economically but her mother pitches in occasionally. Oftentimes she puts her child to bed, finishes her household duties and, before her husband arrives for a late supper, locks herself in the bathroom to well up at ease. It is a simple ritual that gives her emotional relief. Crying alone in the bathroom.

The tried-and-true escape valve for women in angst. Like our mother Gladys did.

Modern women, who are employed full-time in demanding jobs, usually must return home to complete the house chores with little or no help from their live-in partners; to make matters worse they might not have the support offered by close family members or friends. In our hyper-connected age, where most of the rooms at home are taken over by the obnoxiously-pinging squatting devices, they must retrench to the bathroom—their “panic room” to do an exorcism of sorts.

Welling up, they slump on the floor and hug the cold toilet with passion.

Isn’t it sad that they had to anoint a disposal unit as a default confidante?”

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Anger Displacement as a coping mechanism in the Pandemic

The following text is an excerpt of our upcoming book Emotional Frustration- the hushed plague.

—”Doctor…when I get home, I can’t help lashing out at the kids—so bad.”

Verschiebung. This German term can be translated as “shift” or “move.” It was used by Sigmund Freud to describe a psychological defense mechanism; it entails the shifting or displacement of an aggressive emotion from an important person or object into other ones that are less relevant and often lame. [i] Our patient had many situations of Emotional Frustration in her blue-collar job with her despotic boss and his unreasonable demands but, being a single Mom, she hid her anger towards him and the system, fearful of losing her job in tough  times. Often, she scolded her children a little bit too much for just some obnoxious but inconsequential pranks.

This unconscious defense mechanism is an expression of what Freud dubbed as the mortido—our basic aggressive drive. There are three main mechanisms:

  1. Displacement of object
  2. Displacement of attribution
  3. Bodily displacements.

Unfortunately, as we slowly come out of our forced Social Distancing and we interact much more with other human beings, we are loaded up with stress and, as a natural consequence, we will have a shorter fuse, easily snapping away. We will have a hard time containing ourselves, even with an act of mea culpa [ii], if we allow our emotions to get the best of ourselves in the mad frenzy for survival.

Note. This reproduction of Un episodio de la Fiebre amarilla en Buenos Aires, the great painting from our fellow Uruguayan artist Juan Manuel Blanes, was taken from Wikimedia Commons. Even though it is shockingly gory to watch, it does convey the message that there are many dangerous things that we can bring home and affect our families’ well-being – the virus is just the most lethal.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Juan_Manuel_Blanes_-_Un_episodio_de_la_fiebre_amarilla_en_Buenos_Aires.png

One of the most disregarded aspects of the Social Isolation that we have all been enduring for almost one year already is its serious emotional toll on us. Like the young women and men that went into isolation in a Florentine villa in the Decameron, those coming out of seclusion will not be the same ones that went in. There will be multiple changes in our societies, especially for labor opportunities. The economic analysts are already predicting that, besides the contraction of consumer spending due to loss of jobs, there will be a two-speed labor market.

On one hand there will be persons that can work at a distance, with little physical contact. But on the other hand, there will be those that will be dangerously exposed to contagion. This will bring a generalized angry mood in the street like we have never witnessed before. No longer will we be able to take for granted the barista’s familiarity when we arrive at our Starbucks; she might be too worried about being infected while mulling about her son’s day care. After her shift is over, she might be too stressed out to hang out with her girlfriends. A self-sustaining vicious circle.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

References

[i] Sigmund Freud, New Introductory letters on Psychoanalysis, George Allen and Unwin, London, January 1940,

[ii] This term in the Latin language refers to the ancient act of contrition of Christians in front of the Holy Cross when they beat up their chests while they publicly assumed responsibility for their sins or faults.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.