Category : Health & Medicine

(Guardian) Carol Birch–Reject the cruelty of a me-first age that renders lonely people invisible

A staple of self-help dogma is that to protect ourselves from negativity we should give up our more needy friends. Surround yourself with positive people, we are told. Back off from the emotional drains, the sad saps; they really must not be allowed to bring you down. And so those most in need of a friend are abandoned.

Jo Cox, the MP murdered last year, initiated a cross-party campaign to tackle the problem of loneliness. Now her family and some MPs are taking this forward. Research for the Jo Cox Commission published last week shows that almost three-quarters of older people in the UK are lonely. Quite apart from the huge strain this puts on the health service (chronic loneliness is as bad for the health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day), the weight of untold sadness is enormous. As well as highlighting how the government’s massive underfunding of social care causes older people’s isolation, the campaign encourages people to get involved with “befriending” services: to knock on a door, pick up a phone, join the forgotten army of volunteers and good neighbours.

This is badly needed. It’s important, however, not to underestimate the scale of the problem. “Happy to chat” badges will not work for an unreachable demographic: the painfully shy, the stiff, the awkward, the unprepossessing, the unhappy young. Loneliness is common among students, the ones who don’t click with anyone during freshers’ week and thereafter walk alone. They are the naturally introverted, uprooted, changing, alienated. People sleepwalk into loneliness on social media, deluded into thinking the size of their following means they’re connected.

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

(Coloradoan) A hidden horror: Heroin deaths rise fourfold in Colorado since 2002

Rebecca Waechter doesn’t need to listen to people talk about heroin and prescription opioid addiction to understand its far-reaching effects. She need only remember the night she almost died of an overdose in a friend’s Fort Collins bathroom.

Nine years after that near-death experience, the 35-year-old Loveland resident remains painfully acquainted with addiction’s deadly toll. As she sifts through a small binder stuffed with wrinkled letters and old photos of friends and lovers alike, she utters a phrase no amount of practice makes easier: “no longer with us.”

She’s lost track of the toll, though she estimates losing more than a dozen friends and loved ones to the deadly grip of opioid addiction.

“It’s terrifying to me,” Waechter said, her voice tinged with frustration over the ignorance in places like Fort Collins of the prevalence of opioid and narcotic abuse. “It is next door. It’s everywhere. It’s here.

“You don’t need to travel anywhere to get it. It is everywhere. And it’s cheap and just readily accessible. And people aren’t aware.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(Globe and Mail) Unnatural selection: Babies in the genetic technology age

The notion of tinkering with an embryo’s DNA – let alone creating designer babies – makes many of us recoil. But let us not forget the shock and horror at the news of the first “test-tube baby,” Louise Brown, in 1978.

After her birth, her parents received blood-spattered hate mail (and a tiny plastic fetus). Now we call it IVF, and no one bats an eye.

Technologies that allow parents to pick and choose embryos based on genetic testing are already a quarter of a century old. But the dawn of CRISPR, a technology that can “edit” mutated DNA at the embryo stage, has raised the spectre of Nazi-era eugenics and identikit babies out of a sci-fi thriller.

What if laws were in place to forbid scientists from using technologies to create the superrace we fear? What if we had consensus, and an ethical framework, to decide which embryos should live, and which should die?

Such questions are the beating heart of science journalist Bonnie Rochman’s new book, The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies are Changing the Way We Have Kids – and the Kids We Have, published in February.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(NYT) Anti Self-Help books: I’m Not O.K. Neither Are You. Who Cares?

Granted, reading a book that coaches you on how to reject self-help is like downing a shot of Patrón to get the nerve to stop drinking. But it appears to be working. Both “A Counterintuitive Guide to Living a Good Life,” by Mark Manson, and Sarah Knight’s “How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have With People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do” were best sellers. (Those are the subtitles. The titles use a pointedly vulgar phrase synonymous with “not caring one bit.”)

Now comes one of the better-written entries in the genre, “Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze,” which made its author, Svend Brinkmann, a psychology professor in Denmark, a media star there.

“Our secular age is shot through with fundamental existential uncertainty and angst, and this makes it difficult to stand firm,” writes the erudite Mr. Brinkmann, who, compared with his profane and jokey American colleagues, is the Max von Sydow character in this Woody Allen movie. Mr. Brinkmann’s book, like Mr. Manson’s, takes the stand that life is hard and you’re not special, so instead of focusing on shallow quantities like happiness or success as defined by others in our culture of constant acceleration, you should acknowledge your limitations and learn to love your morning bowl of pebbles.

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Posted in Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(AP) Besieged by Opioids, City of Everett Wash. says drugmaker knowingly let pills flood black market

As deaths from painkillers and heroin abuse spiked and street crimes increased, the mayor of Everett took major steps to tackle the opioid epidemic devastating this working-class city north of Seattle.

Mayor Ray Stephanson stepped up patrols, hired social workers to ride with officers and pushed for more permanent housing for chronically homeless people. The city says it has spent millions combating OxyContin and heroin abuse — and expects the tab to rise.

So Everett is suing Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid pain medication OxyContin, in an unusual case that alleges the drugmaker knowingly allowed pills to be funneled into the black market and the city of about 108,000. Everett alleges the drugmaker did nothing to stop it and must pay for damages caused to the community.

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Posted in City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Health & Medicine

(1st Things) Christopher Caldwell–American Carnage: The New Landscape of Opioid Addiction

There have always been drug addicts in need of help, but the scale of the present wave of heroin and opioid abuse is unprecedented. Fifty-two thousand Americans died of overdoses in 2015—about four times as many as died from gun homicides and half again as many as died in car accidents. Pawtucket is a small place, and yet 5,400 addicts are members at Anchor. Six hundred visit every day. Rhode Island is a small place, too. It has just over a million people. One Brown University epidemiologist estimates that 20,000 of them are opioid addicts—2 percent of the population.

Salisbury, Massachusetts (pop. 8,000), was founded in 1638, and the opium crisis is the worst thing that has ever happened to it. The town lost one young person in the decade-long Vietnam War. It has lost fifteen to heroin in the last two years. Last summer, Huntington, West Virginia (pop. 49,000), saw twenty-eight overdoses in four hours. Episodes like these played a role in the decline in U.S. life expectancy in 2015. The death toll far eclipses those of all previous drug crises.

And yet, after five decades of alarm over threats that were small by comparison, politicians and the media have offered only a muted response.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(NYT) Why We Can’t Look Away From Our Screens

Q. What makes you think that people have become addicted to digital devices and social media?

A. In the past, we thought of addiction as mostly related to chemical substances: heroin, cocaine, nicotine. Today, we have this phenomenon of behavioral addictions where, one tech industry leader told me, people are spending nearly three hours a day tethered to their cellphones. Where teenage boys sometimes spend weeks alone in their rooms playing video games. Where Snapchat will boast that its youthful users open their app more than 18 times a day.

Behavioral addictions are really widespread now. A 2011 study suggested that 41 percent of us have at least one. That number is sure to have risen with the adoption of newer more addictive social networking platforms, tablets and smartphones.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology

(Tel.) What happens if you’re both a man and a woman? Welcome to the ‘third sex’ generation

For people who have never questioned their birth sex, the concept of gender fluidity – which simply means that your gender identity varies – can be confusing. But in the same way that transgenderism has moved into the mainstream, thanks to the likes of Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox, gender fluidity is now coming to the fore.

Hit series Billions made TV history recently by introducing television’s first gender fluid character, Taylor, played by Asia Kate Dillon. Like the on-screen character, Dillon also identifies as nonbinary, as do a plethora of high-profile names. Miley Cyrus, Jack Monroe, Angel Haze, Sting’s daughter Eliot Sumner, Tilda Swinton and Orange is the New Black star Ruby Rose have all spoken openly about feeling that their gender is not binary.

Recently, an 11-year-old actor made international headlines after being deemed eligible for an award in the male and female categories at the Leo Awards in Canada. Ameko Eks Mass Carroll starred in Limina, a short film about a non-binary child. (To be clear, non-binary refers to any gender that is not exclusively male or female.)

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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, Sexuality

(GC) A Woman of Whom the World Was Not Worthy: Helen Roseveare

I shared a Helen Roseveare story last September but did not have occasion to note her passing as of yet–KSH.

Dr. Helen Roseveare, a famous English missionary to the Congo, has passed away at the age of 91.

Helen Roseveare was born in 1925 at Haileybury College (Hertfordshire, England), where her father taught mathematics.

Raised in a high Anglican church, Helen’s Sunday school teacher once told their class about India, and Helen resolved to herself that she would one day be a missionary.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Missions, Parish Ministry, Republic of Congo, Theology

Lethal opioid ”˜China white’ cases on the rise in South Carolina

South Carolina had a larger number of cases than its neighboring states involving an increasingly popular synthetic drug that in its purest form can kill someone by just touching it.

There were 90 cases involving seized fentanyl in South Carolina in 2015, according to a recently released report by a congressional commission that monitors and investigates the national security implications of the trade and economic relationship between China and United States.

The report singled out China as the United States’ primary source of fentanyl, which was referred to as a “cheap, synthetically produced opioid” ”“ a painkiller that is about 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article132464299.html#storylink=cpy

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

(Vancouver Sun) When churches become marijuana dispensaries

It was probably inevitable, especially on the cannabis-loving West Coast.

A Christian church has been turned into a marijuana dispensary.

The quaint building that used to house Shawnigan United Church on Vancouver Island has now been “re-christened” the Green Tree Medicinal Dispensary.

There is symbolic power in the transformation. And, depending on your tastes, the metaphorical shift is positive or negative.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Canada, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

([London] Times) Dementia patients in Austria and Germany are still fighting the war 75 years on

Pensioners in Germany and Austria are suffering from delayed trauma caused by their experiences in the Second World War, resulting in assaults and threatening behaviour towards care home staff.

The problem is getting worse because the generation of children born after 1929, who were too young to fight in the war but old enough to witness its horrors, are now entering homes and hospices where suppressed memories are resurfacing, home managers and psychologists said.

Last month, an 83-year-old man pulled a pistol on two nurses in a care home in Altheim, Austria, after they found him in a corridor in his wheelchair during the night. They fled and called the police, who overpowered him. Last August, in the western German city of Münster, an 83-year-old man in a care home killed a 74-year-old man with whom he shared a room.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Austria, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Health & Medicine, History, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Violence

Comment by the Archbishop of Canterbury in response to the statement by the Bp of Guildford

From there:

“I applaud today’s moving, honest and courageous statement by Andrew Watson, the Bishop of Guildford, by making public his experience of abuse at the hands of John Smyth. The traumatic experience he and others went through is utterly appalling and punishment of this kind is wrong. In meetings with survivors of abuse, I have listened to them, prayed for them and wept with them, and am deeply conscious of their suffering. My continued prayers are with Andrew and all the victims of abuse.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

A Statement of the Bp of Guildford, Andrew Watson, regarding his own Iwerne Camp abuse

I am one of the survivors of John Smyth’s appalling activities in the late 1970s and early ’80s. I am also one of the Bishops in the Church of England. This has placed me in a unique and challenging position when it comes to the events of the past few days. My own story is certainly less traumatic than that of some others. I was drawn into the Smyth circle, as they were, and the beating I endured in the infamous garden shed was violent, excruciating and shocking; but it was thankfully a one-off experience never to be repeated. A while later one of my friends attempted suicide on the eve of another session in the shed (a story movingly told in the Channel 4 Report), and at that point I and a friend shared our story.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(LADN) Heroin use fuels surge of ER visits among California millennials

California’s millennials continue to flood hospital emergency departments because of heroin, a trend that has increased steadily statewide and in Los Angeles and Orange counties over the past five years, according to the latest figures.

The state data released last week show that in the first three months of 2016, 412 adults age 20 to 29 went to emergency departments due to heroin. That’s double the number for the same time period in 2012.

Overall, emergency department visits among heroin users of all ages increased, but the sharpest was among the state’s young adults. About 1,500 emergency department visits by California’s millennials poisoned by heroin were logged in 2015 compared with fewer than 1,000 in 2012.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Young Adults