Archive for the ‘Words of Wisdom’ Category

Stress, Families and Faces

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Death of a family member is a source of stress that most of us experience eventually.  Despite this, it is an uncommon subject for film.  A wonderful exception is Departures, an Oscar-winner from 2008 (Best Foreign Language film, Japanese title Okuribito), directed by Yojiro Takita.


Empathy and Stress Illness (3)

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

I had never heard of Mississippi writer Barry Hannah until he died two months ago at age 67.  The obituaries quoted many well-known authors who revered him and prominently mentioned his award-winning short story collection Airships (1978).  When my writer friend Peter also praised it I put in an order.


Empathy and Stress Illness (2)

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

A great work of fiction is not only a pleasure but also can expand the breadth and depth of your empathic skill.  In the last post I wrote about a non-fiction book and a film.  Today I want to look at a novel and in the next post a collection of short stories.


Empathy and Stress Illness (1)

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Empathy, the ability to feel what it is like to be another human being, is a key diagnostic tool in the arsenal of clinicians who diagnose stress illness.  (You can read a series of posts about this by clicking on the tag ’empathy’ below.)


Stress Illness Haiku

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Haiku are three line poems of 5, 7 and 5 syllables first composed in 17th century Japan.  A friend and colleague who writes haiku urged me to give it a try.  I laughed and said the analytic (left) part of my brain is so overused compared to the creative (right) part of my brain that I probably tilt slightly to the left when I walk.  She persisted, though, so I went on to suggest that writing bad haiku is probably one of the easiest tasks in literature and writing good haiku one of the most difficult.


Blood Test for Stress Illness?

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Bethesda, Maryland.  April 1.  The Center for Irreproducible Results at the National Institution of Health today announced a stunning breakthrough that is certain to benefit hundreds of millions of patients.  Dr. Freddie P. Ignobel reports that she has found a blood test that can reliably confirm when physical symptoms are caused by life stresses and not by a disease of an organ or a metabolic problem.


Childhood Stress in Film: Festen (1998)

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Dysfunctional families are a favorite subject of the movies but it is rare when a film can provide a new perspective to my readers with professional or personal experience in this area.  Oscar night made me think of the Danish film (with subtitles) called Festen (Celebration) which begins as family, friends and business associates gather for a banquet to celebrate the 60th birthday of a wealthy family patriarch.  A tragedy has occurred in the family recently.  One family member believes this event was linked to past abuse and, to put it mildly, is interested in clarifying the connection.


Assessing Medical Research (2)

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

How can a person without formal medical training assess health-related information presented by the news media?  We can start with wisdom from over 400 years ago:


The Buffalo

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Taking my wife to see David Mamet’s violent and profane play American Buffalo (1975) was possibly not the most appropriate choice for Valentine’s Day.  But we both wanted to see it and February 14 happened to be the day that worked for our schedule.


Letter to New Medical Students (5)

Friday, January 29th, 2010

We have scheduled several “Personal Mental Health Weekends” during the academic year.  These are two or three day weekends just after an exam and just before the start of a new class when you should have a minimum of studying to do.  We encourage you to use this time to re-connect with as much of your non-medical life as possible. If you lose your humanity during medical training you may become a master of medical technique but you will not reach your potential as a physician.