Category : Health & Medicine

From Vermont, one Family’s devastating account of their daughter being lost to Opioid addiction: Madelyn Linsenmeir RIP

‘When she was 16, she moved with her parents from Vermont to Florida to attend a performing arts high school. Soon after she tried OxyContin for the first time at a high school party, and so began a relationship with opiates that would dominate the rest of her life.

It is impossible to capture a person in an obituary, and especially someone whose adult life was largely defined by drug addiction. To some, Maddie was just a junkie — when they saw her addiction, they stopped seeing her….’

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(CT) Eugene Peterson Enters Hospice Care

“Every moment in this man’s presence is sacred.”

So concluded the son of Eugene Peterson in a weekend announcement that the 85-year-old retired pastor and bestselling author of The Message and A Long Obedience in the Same Direction is receiving hospice care.

Robert Creech, a professor of Christian ministries at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary, shared the announcement from Eric Peterson on Facebook.

“Eugene Peterson has encouraged, formed, and often literally saved the ministry of more than one pastor over the years through his writing and thinking (I would include myself in that list),” wrote Creech in a Saturday post now shared more than 1,000 times. “He has refreshed Scripture for many through his thoughtful paraphrase of the Bible published as The Message.

“He has taught us to pray,” Creech continued. “It is time for those who have benefited from his ministry to return the favor to him and his family with prayer over the next several weeks.”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(IFS) Laurie DeRose–Cohabitation, Churning, and Children’s Diverging Destinies

I’m teaching a course at Georgetown this semester called “Family Diversity in America.” This week, my students are writing a short paper where they have to explain either how low incomes contribute to disadvantageous family situations, or how disadvantageous family situations contribute to low incomes. Heather Rackin and Christina Gibson-Davis would easily have gotten an “A” on my assignment because their recent study in the  Journal of Marriage and Family highlights one of the mechanisms through which today’s family patterns result in greater economic difficulties: cohabitation. Rackin and Gibson-Davis explain how the rise in cohabitation has disadvantaged children of lower and moderately-educated mothers more than children whose mothers have a college degree.

The authors use a term to describe a large volume of relationship turnovers that is fairly common in the academic literature: “churning,” which means lots of entrances and exits. I first learned of the term in the context of investments: an investment advisor who encourages you to change your market positions frequently can be suspected of wanting to benefit from churning, that is, in financial terms, to profit from the transaction fees themselves. While children certainly benefit from relationship transitions that remove them from abuse or lift them out of poverty, the evidence shows that kids who experience relationship churning typically pay a price (e.g., academic, economic, psychological, behavioral). Kids are not a party that pockets transaction fees.

What has happened over time in the U.S. is that disadvantaged kids have come to experience more relationship transitions and their associated costs. This is what we call diverging destinies: when socioeconomically disadvantaged kids are more likely to have experiences that impoverish—they started out behind richer kids, and their destinies diverged further because their family transitions tended to cost them, while richer kids were more likely to benefit from stability. If you were assigned the paper for my class, you would have to decide whether to write about how lower-income families face many barriers to stable marriage or how breaking up and re-forming families has costs of its own (e.g., lost economies of scale from break-ups or gained stress from forming complex families).

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(IV) Bethany Horvath–Living with Depression

I love the movie Silver Linings Playbook. Not because of the love story. Not because of Robert De Niro or Bradley Cooper or Jennifer Lawrence. Not because of the awesome dance moves.

I love the movie because of its honest portrayal of mental illness and the message that you can still live life if you have a mental illness. I love how Pat’s parents learn to suffer through it with him, loving him along the way—which isn’t easy.

I know, because I’ve been living with depression for the past 13 years.

Before experiencing depression myself, I never understood how or why someone would want to live life in a constant state of sadness, with thoughts of harming themself and no hope in sight in the world. Then I found out that no one wants to live life that way. It’s something beyond their control. Something that doesn’t make sense to them and that they don’t want to have present in their life.

I was diagnosed with depression as a freshman in college after already experiencing some difficult events in my life. I didn’t understand who I was, why I was thinking the way I was, or why everyone was out to get me.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Psychology

(Guardian) Net worth v self worth: do we all need inequality therapy?

Inequality isn’t just changing the way we deal with economics – it’s perversely altering how we see ourselves and what we value. And Glantz and J Gary Bernhard, authors of the new book Self Evaluation and Psychotherapy in the Market System, want us to understand that.

“What I would do is focus on the reality of the system which puts people in that kind of situation,” Glantz says of his work with Michael. “It has nothing to do with him.”

Welcome to the new world of what might be called inequality therapy.

In a hyper-capitalist world where advertising and financial pressures channel the drive for status into an obsession, no one can really win – even those who appear to have it all. Commerce infiltrates even the language we use to describe our deepest concerns: am I worth it? Am I valued? Do I count?

Posted in Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(The Age) Productivity Commission to examine mental health spending in wake of Australian suicide crisis

The Productivity Commission will undertake a major inquiry into the role of mental health in the economy as the Morrison government looks to extract better value from the $9 billion a year spent on mental wellbeing.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt have asked the commission to examine “whether the current investment in mental health is delivering value for money”, as well as how to improve economic and social participation for people struggling with their mental health.

Four million Australians deal with a chronic or episodic mental health issue each year, and one in five people affected by mental illness do not seek help because of the stigma, Mr Hunt said.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

(CT) Nobel Peace Prize Goes in part to a Christian Doctor Who Heals Rape Victims

A Christian gynecologist who has dedicated his career to caring for victims of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been awarded a 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.

Denis Mukwege, nicknamed “Dr. Miracle” for his specialized procedures, was a co-recipient for the annual honor alongside Nadia Murad, a Yazidi activist who survived rape and kidnapping by ISIS in Iraq. The Nobel committee said both winners modeled “efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.”

Over the past 20 years, Mukwege has treated tens of thousands of women in Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, many of who had been gang raped by militants in the midst of the country’s conflict, left scarred and stigmatized.

His faith influences his approach to caring for patients holistically, “not only to treat women—their body, [but] also to fight for their own right, to bring them to be autonomous, and, of course, to support them psychologically. And all of this is a process of healing so women can regain their dignity,” he told NPR.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Republic of Congo, Sexuality, Theology, Violence, Women

(Wa Po) Marijuana use is now as common among baby boomers as it is among teens, federal data shows

“…it’s becoming increasingly clear that stereotypes of marijuana users as risk-taking disaffected youth are outdated in the era of legal marijuana, with middle-aged and even older Americans becoming more likely to use the drug than their children and grandchildren.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine

(Christian Century) John Wahl from Ohio offers Reflections on Silence and Listening

From there:

My 12-year-old son, like many children with autism, is nonverbal. Through typing, writing, and signing, he is able to communicate many of his needs, though this patchwork of strategies still often leads to misinterpretation.

But one thing he knows how to tell me is when he is ready to walk. Most afternoons after school, or often early on Saturday mornings, we take walks together. Sometimes he listens to music to dull the sensory-interfering noises of the world, sometimes not. When time allows, we walk for miles and miles, often taking familiar routes in and around town, sometimes charting a new course. Side by side, and in silence, we walk. I discern this to be a part of my calling as a father.

The exercise is good for both of us, to be sure, but it also fills my soul. I am privileged to be there sometimes to guide and protect but also just to be alongside. Together, we experience both routine and surprise, stillness and movement, quiet and its varied interruptions. And there is mystery to be found in it all.

In other parts of my life as a pastor, I am not always so comfortable with silence. Sitting down to pray and meditate can be a challenge. I am prone to be thinking of the next meeting to attend, parishioner to visit, or sermon to write. In the quiet I fret about performance, worry about the future, dwell on all those many things that are so tempting to try to control. So often, it is so hard to just listen.

And so I walk. And my son, by walking with me, helps me embrace the quietness that we are allowed to share with one another. And in our shared silence I am reminded of the God who also walks alongside at all times and in all circumstances, the One who will speak if we are willing to listen.

John Wahl
Chagrin Falls, Ohio

quoted by yours truly in the Morning sermon (all of the essays on silence are commended to blog readers)–KSH.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(NPR) Bobi Wine Is Willing ‘To Die Trying’ To Win Freedom For Uganda

“I’m supposed to be a dead man,” says Bobi Wine, a Ugandan musician turned politician.

His driver Yasin Kawuma was shot dead on Aug. 13. Wine tweeted a graphic picture he said was of the man’s dead body. Wine says police were the ones who shot Kawuma, but Wine says he was their real target.

Bobi Wine’s real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu. He rose to fame as a musician — first with love songs and dance songs, but more recently turned to political themes in his music. His 2017 song “Freedom” has become a rallying cry for the country’s opposition.

In the same year, Wine was elected to the country’s Parliament as an independent.

He’s become a leader in opposing the country’s longtime President Yoweri Museveni — in power since 1986. Museveni is known for violently crushing dissent. Human Rights Watch says the government “continues to violate free association, expression, and assembly rights.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Music, Politics in General, Psychology, Uganda

(NBC) Montana had the highest suicide rate in the country. Then budget cuts hit.

Libby is in Lincoln County, which has a population of nearly 20,000 but just one behavioral health employee, Amy Fantozzi, a graduate student who oversees the county’s contracts with medical providers who do mental health assessments.

The town had a clinic run by the nonprofit Western Montana Mental Health Center, the largest service provider in the region, which had 12 clinics serving 15,000 clients across 15 counties. But after the cuts were announced last year, the center laid off more than 60 case managers and shut down three clinics, including the one in Libby. That left hundreds of patients without access to therapy, medication and a case manager to check on them.

Now, when those patients are in crisis, their only option is the emergency room at Lincoln County’s lone hospital. Once they check in, Fantozzi gets a call, and she must decide whether to spend $100 of her $18,500 annual budget on a mental health assessment. Depending on the results, she could then spend an additional $300 to have the patient evaluated and involuntarily committed at the nearest mental institution 90 miles away.

There have yet to be any publicly reported deaths by suicide as a result of the local clinic’s closure, but county officials fear the current system of mental health triage won’t hold up…

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, State Government, Suicide, Theology

(Guardian) Kwame Anthony Appiah–Can we choose our own identity?

“What I want to do is to widen the bandwidth of gender,” says Alex Drummond, the Cardiff psychologist and author and a trans woman, who decided to keep her beard, while also forgoing surgery or hormones. Drummond, who identifies as lesbian, told BuzzFeed: “If all you ever see is trans women who completely pass and are completely convincing as natal females, then those of us who just don’t have that kind of luck won’t have the confidence to come out.” (Most trans women have not had genital surgery, according to a recent survey by the American National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.) Her project of “gender queering” hasn’t met universal acceptance; one trans woman writer has likened her to “the older, oversized bully” who “throws himself into the toddlers’ sandpit and kicks everyone else out”. Did I mention quakes and tremors?

But a conversation – a negotiation – has begun, gloriously. Every day, men negotiate with one another about what masculinity means. And not just men. “Man” and “woman” are part of a system of interacting identities. Nor, for that matter, can black and white and Asian and brown racial identities be negotiated separately by black and white and Asian and brown people. That’s why we have to resist the liberal fantasy in which identities are merely chosen, so we are all free to be what we choose to be. In truth, identities without demands would be lifeless. Identities work only because, once they get their grip on us, they command us, speaking to us as an inner voice; and because others, seeing who they think we are, call on us, too. If you do not care for the shapes your identities have taken, you have to work with others inside and outside the labelled group in order to reframe them so they fit you better; and you can do that collective work only if you recognise that the results must serve others as well.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Sexuality

(NYT Op-ed) Let Kids Play

“We’re in a climate where parents are feeling like they need to schedule every minute of structured time, and 30 percent of kindergartens offer no recess,” said Dr. Michael Yogman, chairman of the A.A.P. committee on psychosocial aspects of child family health and the lead author of the statement. To some, he said, “play is seen as irrelevant and old-fashioned.”

Dr. Benard Dreyer, the director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine and a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, “The old saying is, play is the work of children. Play is the way they learn and the way they develop. It’s important to understand how all of us, and especially parents, can encourage play.”

“Kids develop 21st-century skills in play,” said Dr. Yogman, who is chief of the division of ambulatory pediatrics at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass. These include social and emotional skills and executive function, “skills that are crucial for adults in the new economy, that help them collaborate and innovate.”

A fundamental job in pediatric primary care is to strengthen the parent-child relationship, he said, and play is important in that area as well….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

A Former Sex Trafficking Victim Describes Her Ordeal and Rescue

You need to take the time to watch it all. If you cannot handle it visually please read the transcript there.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Sexuality, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence, Women

Scott Sauls–When Pastors Crash and Burn

Many of us pastors, including Spurgeon and including me, have fallen into the emotional abyss—not in spite of the fact that we are in ministry, but because we are in ministry.

Studies show that pastors experience anxiety and depression at a rate that is disproportionately high compared to the rest of the population. Due to the unique pressures associated with spiritual warfare, unrealistic expectations from congregants and oneself, the freedom many feel to criticize and gossip about pastors with zero accountability (especially in the digital age), failure to take time off for rest and replenishment, marriage and family tensions due to the demands of ministry, financial strains and self-comparison, pastors are prime candidates for relational isolation, emotional turmoil, and moral collapse.

Studies also show that some pastors face unreasonable, even impossible, demands placed on them by their people. I am NOT one of those pastors, thanks to a church that both receives my gifts and embraces my limitations. All in all, the people of Christ Presbyterian Church treat me with extraordinary love and kindness. But, sadly, not all pastors are as lucky as I am.

Dr. Thom Rainer, a leading pastoral ministry guru, once conducted a survey asking church members what they expected from their pastors. Specifically, Dr. Rainer wanted to know the minimum amount of time church members believed their pastors should give each week to various areas of ministry, including prayer, sermon preparation, outreach and evangelism, counseling, administrative tasks, visiting the sick, community involvement, denominational engagement, church meetings, worship services, and so on. On average, the minimum amount of time church members expected their pastors to give to the ministry was 114 hours per week.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Stress, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture