The C2S blog draws on the arts, the social and biological sciences to explore the many meanings of health and "dis-ease." Designed to be a locus where patients, their families and professionals can meet on a level playing field, it is the natural off-shoot of the Cell 2 Soul Online Journal. We encourage the submission of ideas, essays, poems, stories, humor, and timely reviews relating to the humanities and health care.
In this audio, Andrew Solomon tells the remarkable story of Cambodian woman he met while doing research in that country. He wanted to understand what happens when an entire nation has been subjected to a trauma. This Cambodian woman had survived the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge.
In a resettlement camp, she started a group to help shattered women refugees rendered lifeless by the horrors of Pol Pot’s regime. This is a moving video with many teaching points.
by Madeline Halpert and Eva Rosenfeld, NY Times, May 21, 2014 The authors of this NY Times Opinion piece are managing editors at their high school newspaper in Michigan.
"Most of our closest friends didn’t know that we struggled with depression. It just wasn’t something we discussed with our high school classmates. We found that we both had taken Prozac only when one of us caught a glimpse of a prescription bottle in a suitcase during a journalism conference last November. For the first time, we openly discussed our feelings and our use of antidepressants with someone who could relate. We took a risk sharing our experiences with depression, but in our honesty, we found a support system. We knew we had to take the idea further."
Steve Sobel is a practicing psychiatrist in northern Vermont. "A 500 Pound Amoeba" is a collection of 10 compelling vignettes of patients with psychiatric illnesses. These comprise depression, mania, OCD, body dysmorphic disorder, borderline personality, generalized anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, acrophobia, psychotic depression, and dementia. The stories are told with great sensitivity. Each one is divided into two parts. The first describing the illness as appreciated from the patient’s vantage point and the second explains the clinician’s approach and touches on the doctor-patient relationship.
We have all known patients like the composites Dr. Sobel eloquently conveys. As physicians, we have all had patients like these. Sobel’s narrative style is easy to read and follow. These tales afford profound insights into the illnesses covered.
This slender volume of less than 130 pages will make compelling reading for physicians, mental health professionals, trainees, medical students and all others with an interest in mental health. Sobel has a humble, gentle, compassionate writing style and the tales are memorable. The narrative form employed also serves as a template for the presentation of similar patients. Reading "A 500 Pound Amoeba" one recalls Oliver Sacks' "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" but I found Sobel's book less didacticand more humane.
A week ago, most of us didn't know who the Inernet activist Aaron Swartz was. Today, he is a cause celebre. If you want to read more about Swartz and see an impressive video of a talk he gave see: Remembering Aaron Swartz. In a 2007 post on his blog, Raw Thought, Swartz, related his thoughts about depression. Swartz committed suicide at age 26 on January 11,
2013. His candid insights about
depression may help to explain how and why the legal situation he found himself in
contributed to his death.
"Depressed mood: Surely there have been times when you’ve
been sad. Perhaps a loved one has abandoned you or a plan has gone horribly
awry. Your face falls. Perhaps you cry. You feel worthless. You wonder whether
it’s worth going on. Everything you think about seems bleak — the things you’ve
done, the things you hope to do, the people around you. You want to lie in bed
and keep the lights off. Depressed mood is like that, only it doesn’t come for
any reason and it doesn’t go for any either. Go outside and get some fresh air
or cuddle with a loved one and you don’t feel any better, only more upset at
being unable to feel the joy that everyone else seems to feel. Everything gets
colored by the sadness.
At best, you tell yourself that your thinking is irrational,
that it is simply a mood disorder, that you should get on with your life. But
sometimes that is worse. You feel as if streaks of pain are running through
your head, you thrash your body, you search for some escape but find none. And
this is one of the more moderate forms. As George Scialabba put it, “acute
depression does not feel like falling ill, it feels like being tortured … the
pain is not localized; it runs along every nerve, an unconsuming fire. … Even
though one knows better, one cannot believe that it will ever end, or that
anyone else has ever felt anything like it.”
Hey, it could be worse. At least I have decent health
Emily Dickinson knew a fair bit about depression too.
After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?
The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –
This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –
last post, on November 1, 2012 was written about The Dark Knight. It ends with these two sentences. "Thus
Master Wayne is left without solutions. Out of options, it’s no wonder the
series ends with his staged suicide."