segunda-feira, fevereiro 28, 2011
quarta-feira, fevereiro 23, 2011
"Bonanno started researching how we respond emotionally to bereavement and other traumatic events in the early 1990s while at the University of California, San Francisco. In those days, the prevailing wisdom held that the loss of a close friend or relative left indelible emotional scars - and Freudian grief work or a similar tonic was needed to return the mourner to a normal routine. Bonanno and his colleagues approached the task with open minds. Yet, again and again during the experiments, they found no trace of psychic wounds, raising the prospect that psychological resilience prevails, that it was not just a rare occurrence in in- dividuals blessed with propitious genes or gifted parents. This insight also raised the unsettling prospect that latter-day versions of grief work might end up producing more harm than good.
"In one example of his work, Bonanno and his colleague Dacher Keltner analyzed facial expressions of people who had lost loved ones recently. The videos bore no hint of any permanent sorrow that needed extirpation. As expected, the videos revealed sadness but also anger and happiness. Time and again, a grief-stricken person's expression would change from dejection to laughter and back.
"Were the guffaws genuine, the researchers wondered? They slowed down the video and looked for contraction of the orbicularis oculi muscles around the eyes - movements known as Duchenne expressions that confirm that laughs are what they seem, not just an artifact of a polite but insincere titter. The mourners, it turns out, exhibited the real thing. The same oscillation between sadness and mirth repeated itself in study after study.
"What does it mean? Bonanno surmises that melancholy helps us with healing after a loss, but unrelenting grief, like clinical depression, is just too much to bear, overwhelming the mourner. So the wiring inside our heads prevents most of us from getting stuck in an inconsolable psychological state. If our emotions get either too hot or cold, a kind of internal sensor - call it a 'resilience-stat' - returns us to equilibrium.
"Bonanno expanded his studies beyond bereavement. At Catholic University and later Columbia, he interviewed survivors of sexual abuse, New Yorkers who had gone through the 9/11 attacks and Hong Kong residents who had lived through the SARS epidemic. Wherever he went, the story was the same: 'Most of the people looked like they were coping just fine.'
"A familiar pattern emerged. In the immediate aftermath of death, disease or disaster, a third to two thirds of those surveyed experienced few, if any, symptoms that would merit classification as trauma: sleeping difficulties, hypervigilance or flashbacks, among other symptoms. Within six months the number that remained with these symptoms often fell to less than 10 percent."
Author: Gary Stix
Title: "The Neuroscience of True Grit"
Publisher: Scientific American Magazine
Date: March 2011
sexta-feira, fevereiro 18, 2011
sexta-feira, fevereiro 11, 2011
Yesterday he was staying, today he is leaving. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a pharaoh? Clearly, Hosni Mubarak was trying to hang on, and just as clearly, the Egyptian military told him no can do. No doubt they realize that their ability to hang onto their privileged position was being imperiled by Mubarak’s desire to cling to his even more privileged position, so they gave him a gentle shove out the door.
There are many points one can make at such an important moment. Obviously, one can cheer on the people of Egypt and wish them the best in creating a democracy — a goal that is only slightly closer to realization with Mubarak out of office. All too many obstacles remain, including the desire of Omar Suleiman and his military backers to maintain the corrupt structures that have dominated Egypt for decades. But for the time being, let me offer a thought as someone who is writing a history of guerrilla warfare and terrorism.
Egypt shows that there is a better way than setting off bombs if you want to change regimes. “People power” protests of the kind we have seen in recent weeks in Cairo and Alexandria have toppled far more rulers in recent decades than all the world’s terrorists and guerrillas combined. East Germany, the Soviet Union, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Lebanon, Georgia, Tunisia, and on and on — the list of countries where popular demonstrations have toppled unpopular regimes is a long one. Now add Egypt to that list.
The success of protesters in Tunisia and Egypt is especially striking because both regimes — along with all the other governments in the Middle East — have been in the cross-hairs of al-Qaeda and their Islamist fellow travelers. Osama bin Laden and his ilk have been using suicide bombers and assassins for many years to try to topple dictatorships across the region. Time after time, they have failed — in Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere. All those regimes have proved able to repress violent extremists (admittedly, in the case of Iraq, with considerable American help). In Egypt, Mubarak survived the massacres of tourists in the 1990s carried out by Islamist groups. He did not survive peaceful rallies in the heart of his own capital.
There is a lesson here for those not too fanatical or deluded to learn it. Put down the bomb, the sniper rifle, whatever weapon you have, and grab a placard, go on Twitter, organize a rally. True, many peaceful protests have been repressed too, as we have seen most recently in Iran; but they offer a much surer road to regime change than does blowing up innocent people.
quarta-feira, fevereiro 09, 2011
terça-feira, fevereiro 08, 2011
segunda-feira, fevereiro 07, 2011
"Practically all living, awake or asleep, was done in this single large, mostly bare, always smoky chamber [called the hall]. Servants and family ate, dressed, and slept together. - 'a custom which conduced neither to comfort nor
the observance of the proprieties,' as J. Alfred Gotch noted with a certain clear absence of comfort himself in his classic book The Growth of the English House (1909). Through the whole of the medieval period, till well into the fifteenth century, the hall effectively was the house, so much so that it became the convention to give its name to the entire dwelling, as in Hardwick Hall or Toad Hall.
Every member of the household, including servants, retainers, dowager widows, and anyone else with a continuing attachment, was considered family - they were literally familiar, to use the word in its original sense. In the most commanding (and usually least drafty) position in the hall was a raised platform called a dais, where the owner and his family ate - a practice recalled by the high tables still found in colleges and boarding schools that have (or sometimes simply wish to project) a sense of long tradition. The head of the household was the husband - a compound term meaning literally 'householder' or 'house owner.' His role as manager and provider was so central that the practice of land management became known as husbandry. Only much later did husband come to signify a marriage partner. ...
"One thing that did not escape notice in medieval times was that nearly all the space above head height was unusable because it was so generally filled with smoke. ... What was needed was something that would seem, on the face of it, straightforward: a practical chimney. ... What made the difference eventually was the development of good bricks, which can deal with heat better over the long term than almost any rock can. ... So the development of the fireplace became one of the great breakthroughs in domestic history: they allowed people to lay boards across the beams and create a whole new world upstairs.
"The upward expansion of houses changed everything. Rooms began to
proliferate as wealthy householders discovered the satisfactions of having space to themselves. The first step, generally, was to build a grand new room upstairs called the great chamber, where the lord and his family did all the things they had done in the hall before - eat, sleep, loll, and play - but without so many other people about, returning to the great hall below only for banquets and other special occasions. Servants stopped being part of the family and became, well, servants. The idea of personal space, which seems so natural to us now, was a revelation. People couldn't get enough of it. Soon it wasn't merely sufficient to live apart from one's inferiors; one had to have time apart from one's equals, too.
"As houses sprouted wings and spread, and domestic arrangements grew more complex, words were created or adapted to describe all the new room types: study, bedchamber, privy chamber, closet, oratory (for a place of prayer), parlor, withdrawing chamber, and library (in a domestic as opposed to institutional sense) all date from the fourteenth century or a little earlier. Others soon followed: gallery, long gallery, presence chamber, tiring (forattiring) chamber, salon or saloon, apartment, lodgings, suite, and estude. 'How widely different is all this from the ancient custom of the whole household living by day and night in the great hall!' wrote J. Alfred Gotch in a moment of rare exuberance. One new type not mentioned by Gotch wasboudoir, literally 'a room to sulk in,' which from its earliest days was associated with sexual intrigue.
"Even with the growth of comparative privacy, life remained much more communal and exposed than today. Toilets often had multiple seats, for ease of conversation, and paintings regularly showed couples in bed or bath in an attitude of casual friskiness while attendants waited on them and their friends sat amiably nearby, playing cards or conversing but comfortably within sight and earshot."
Author: Bill Bryson
Title: At Home
Date: Copyright 2010 by Bill Bryson
Pages: 49, 58-60