Dr. Mario O. Laplume
The Hushed plague
A Novelized essay
« Suffering is good because it ennobles you”
Dedicated to all the great women in our lifetimes that have created, nurtured, taught, waited for, forgiven and loved us
List of contents
Chapter I – Casual talk over a flimsy fence pp.9-22
Chapter II – It’s not only about sex pp.23-58
Chapter III – The trolling toll of Technology pp.59-93
Chapter IV – The cyber chantage pp.94-126
Chapter V – The material girl pp.127-150
Chapter VI – The bad negotiator pp.151-178
Chapter VII – The Vegan Harta factor pp.179-208
Epilogue – What do women really want? pp.209-219
“Women are meant to be loved, not understood.” Oscar Wilde
We have a problem with a woman. A particular one. And getting much worse.
Ever since we started our medical practice almost thirty years ago, she has been coming every day, rain or shine, to share her multiple woes with us. She sits down on the opposite side of our desk, looks us straight in the eye and says the same words: “I am emotionally frustrated.” What’s her name? Bovary. Emma Bovary.
When we read Madame Bovary[i] as a student in the Alliance Française[ii] of Montevideo, we were mesmerized by the story of a beautiful and ardent wife of a country medical practitioner that could not find any solace in her grey existence. At the time we could not fathom how she could be so ungrateful to her loving partner. However, the ensuing studies and practice as a medical doctor gave us the necessary insight to understand—if still not fully agree with—the cause of her profound angst. We discovered the multiple big and small, yet none the less painful, humiliations and scorn almost all women must endure with unequal stoicism during their lives.
We had left our copy of the novel in a box full of books in Montevideo but somehow, Emma sprung out of it to pursue us all the way to Miami to disturb us. Ever since her 1856 debut as a serialized offering in La Revue de Paris [iii], this mischievously meek wife of a rural physician has shown a rather unusual dexterity at deftly manipulating ingénue men like us to dragoon us for her basest desires…
Even in a hyper-connected age, she still cannot get her message through. The proliferation of mixed messages in the social media platforms has increased her confusion as her connections seem to be more tone-deaf to her complaints. As the tragic trifecta of memory, love and the passage of time relentlessly gnaws at her soul, she has been obnoxiously nagging us to transcribe all her thoughts verbatim [iv]. The Spanish language differentiates between the noble role of escritor—an artist inspired by a higher mission—and the mundane one of escribidor—a shady agent struggling with words and sinking in dark undercurrents. I am Emma’s escribidor—negotiating with the most miserly of muses and fending off the meanest of demons.
A strange phenomenon has occurred to us almost imperceptibly yet steadily: the causes of her Emotional Frustration have started to percolate into our mind. Moreover, the daily exercise of listening attentively has developed in our manly brain one of the greatest wonders that women are endowed with: the mirror neurons.
Slowly yet surely, we have learned to read almost any rictus of her face without any exchange of words. We can discern how her mood is by just looking at the way she steps in. Prodded by the cultural constraints of a supposedly “modern society” still controlled by men, women have been more focused on association rather than action like men had. In order to find out quickly and efficiently what their loved ones need, they have developed this gift ever since our dark times in the caves. We can start to close the gap by following their advice: “Just listen to me.”
Sigmund Freud [v] was perhaps the first man that ever tried to listen to women. In his medical cabinet, he sat down next to a lady that would freely associate to open her mind and heart to his clinical scrutiny. Thus, he had the courage to study what Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot [vi], his mentor, dismissively dubbed as la chose génitale[vii] when they examined hysterical patients in the Neurology ward of La Salpetrière [viii]. The extraordinarily rich emotional armamentarium of a woman exposes her to multiple instances of frustration when her goals, or those of people she cares about, are not reached for sexual, familiar, financial, professional and even social reasons. After his workday, Freud had the temerity to go back home to listen to this wife and, if some unconfirmed reports are true, his sister-in-law too— his secret lover. Brave.
We have noticed the rising importance of female bonding in Emma’s life. Women—historically oppressed by the patriarchal institutions and biologically burdened by the travails of the family—usually find the needed emotional support and social connectedness within their circle of friends, both male and female. Moreover, as women live more of their adult lives without a steady partner or a traditional family, they share more purposes and experiences with their loyal friends.
Based on his clinical experience, Antón Chekov[ix] wrote about the paradoxical facets of our behavior. Human beings are biologically hardwired for contradiction—the essence of all the creative process—because we have two brains and two minds. The Left propositional Hemisphere is logical and analytical while the Right appositional hemisphere is perceptual and synthetic.[x] As a result, all the sensory input to the Right Hemisphere (originating in the body’s left side) is stored without any hard analysis or judgement. Contradictions coexist in a certain harmony there. Women have more neural connections via the Corpus Callosum, between the Right and Left hemispheres [xi], which explains their better integration of emotional aspects.
We have patiently designed and written in a medical and literary web page at https://drmolaplume.com/ ,which has been a resounding success with a select public. We grouped our writings in series, one of which was named Emotional Frustration. It constituted the necessary scaffolding to slowly start constructing this sailing boat, besides gauging the reaction of our readers and pleading for a propitious hava[xii]. We would like to thank our two children for their unfaltering support all these years besides helping us in concrete ways. Noel Marie designed the beautiful cover and Gian Luca helped us edit the text ; both have commented many of the articles. As Life is a perpetual journey along the treacherous channels to Wisdom that our ancestors navigated before us, we would like to thank our grandparents and parents for their endowment of indefatigable discoverers and a sure, reliable moral compass.
Dear readers, trying to discern what the big causes of Emotional Frustration in our modern women are might seem like an impossible task, especially for us, men. However, we do believe that we can retrace our steps to the early, hardy days of the start of our medical studies where we had to sit down face to face with a woman—sometimes with the company of other female students—in the clinical ward of the University Hospital of the Medical School of La Plata where we studied our career. It was right there that we started to hone our intuition skills “to understand women.” From that point it has been a continuous learning process with its ups and downs.
This essay is meant not only for emotionally frustrated women but men too. Whether we like it or not, we are now living in a totally on-demand environment. The time lapse between awareness, desire and reward has been reduced to an instant. If the streaming platforms release all the episodes of a series in a single day, we must realize that entertainment has taken a new dimension, especially for women. If you take a lady for a romantic dinner (including someone that you have known forever like your own wife) you should expect her to scrutinize closely you for any faux-pas and quietly expect the right moves—verbal and physical. Binge-watching-reacting. You must be able to sell your brand every time both interact romantically. Reality takes a backseat to the magic of entertainment. It’s what she sees in you. To succeed in this mellifluous Houdini-type magic, you must combine the storytelling prowess of brand marketers with the action-driven stunts of performance marketers.
Someone trying to market their brand has to leverage this new paradigm to their advantage by learning the best practices advocated by psychologists, social researchers, philosophers, writers and even a few dirty tricks by lovers of ladies—liked we used to be… Long, long time ago, before we became a Monk of Medicine.
The Emotional Frustration of women does not occur in a social vacuum but rather within the constrictive corset deftly set up by all the patriarchal institutions. As there is nothing natural or biological to justify the social and professional subordination of educated women in our modern societies, we will tackle this issue. In order to prod men to make a little effort in the learning process—and bring some much-needed relief to the devoted women in their lives—we took the liberty to put a sub-section labelled as A nugget of Wisdom to clarify some critical points. After thoroughly discussing each major cause of Emotional Frustration, we address men directly in order to discuss how we can try to help the suffering women in our lives. It looks like the college notes on literary but hard to read classics like Ulysses. [xiii] We can still remember the utter puzzlement and sense of loss we had when we raided the great library of our dear father Mario [xiv] and pulled that book out. “What is this? Why all this messy lay-out? Where do I start? Will I reach the end?”
Do not despair. Ignorant men can learn. Frustrated women can get relief.
Every memorable adventure, and its printed saga, begins with a single step.
Please give us your hand and let us make that most humble, powerful move.
As Mario Benedetti [xv]—a chronicler of the “little details of life”—said:
“Lo Imposible. Solo cuesta un poco más.” [xvi]
[i] Gustave Flaubert, “Madame Bovary”, Frères Michel Levy, Paris, 1857.
[ii] Name of the private institute based in Paris, France, that teaches the French language in many branches worldwide.
[iii] After five years of writing more than 4500 pages, Gustave Flaubert, aged 35 years, published the 500 pages of “Madame Bovary” in the magazine directed by Maxime Du Camp, his companion in the trip to the Far East. There were six parts appearing on the first and fifteenth day of the months of October, November and December 1856. He wrote to a friend that; ‘you will know that I am presently being printed, I lose my virginity of non-published man in eight days as of Thursday, October 1st…I will for three consecutive months fill most of the pages of La Revue de Paris.” Our translation.
Yvan Leclerc, “Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, pré-originale dans la Revue de Paris «, Recueil des Commémorations Nationales 2006.
[iv] Term in the Latin language that means: “in exactly the same words.’
[vii] Can be translated as “the genital stuff.”
[viii] Name of a Paris hospital where Prof. Charcot directed a teaching ward of Neurology.
[x] David A. Scola, “The Hemispheric Specialization of the Human Brain and its Application to Psychoanalytic Principles”, Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 2, Issue 1, January 1984. https://jdc.jefferson.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer/
[xi] Babak A. Ardekani, Khadija Figarsky, John Sitdis, “Sexual Dimorphism in the Human Corpus Callosum: an MRI Study using the OASIS Brain database”, Cerebral Cortex, 2013 Oct:23(10): 2514-2520. https;//academic.coup.com/cercor/article/23/10/2514/29675/
[xii] Word of the Hindi language that can be translated as “current of air.”
[xiv] Mario Laplume Salguero was our great father and we prepared an article in his honor in our web page.
[xvi] Can be translated as “The Impossible. It only costs a little bit more.” Mario Benedetti is one of the greatest modern Uruguayan writers who specialized in short stories and penned some of the most memorable romantic lines. Like James Joyce, he was interested in the vicissitudes of urban life and the multiple characters that inhabit—and suffer—them. “Montevideanos”, his first major book published in 1959, has reminiscences of “Dubliners.”