Finding Moments of Calm During a Pandemic


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As the wise wisely instruct us to count our blessings—which I do—I also can’t help but wonder how to sustain this sense of gratitude through the undulations of daily domestic life when so many of our homes balloon not only with love and recognition but also with stress, turbulence, even violence, from forces within and without. If this question is rhetorical, it’s because I don’t want anyone—including myself—to feel that they’re doing kinship wrong if and when it hurts. Today, for me, it hurts. It is sweet, and it hurts. I think it hurt sometimes for Ginzburg, too, and it’s not clear to me that it could have been different, even if she knew all that was to come.

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Maggie Nelson — The New Yorker

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The Ibuprofen Debate Reveals the Danger of Covid-19 Rumors


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The letter was speculative. But, three days after it was published, the French Ministry of Health circulated a warning against using ibuprofen for Covid-19 fevers, citing “serious adverse events” occurring in “possible or confirmed cases.” The same day, the French minister of health, a physician, tweeted advice to avoid ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatories because they could be “an aggravating factor” in Covid-19 infections. The minister, Olivier Véran, recommended that people with fevers take paracetamol, the European generic name for acetaminophen, and didn’t offer any evidence to back up the recommendation. Still, his advice whipped around the world: It was repeated in media outlets from the United States to the United Kingdom to Israel to Singapore to New Zealand.

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Mary McKenna — Wired

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The World Catches a Dangerous Virus of the Mind


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The virus is proving an expensive house guest as it hits corporate revenue, profit margins, and balance sheets. As El-Erian points out, the three major components of global gross domestic product—consumption, trade, and investment—are taking a hit to some degree from the spread of the virus. Even before the age of the new coronavirus dawned, global trade had fallen last year for the first time since 2009 because of a tariff war between the U.S. and China and a manufacturing recession. Now the world economy is on track for its weakest year since the financial crisis as the new coronavirus takes its toll, according to analysts at Bank of America Corp. Global growth will slip to 2.8%, from a previous estimate of 3.1%, and the Chinese economy will advance at 5.2%, which would be the worst performance since 1990.

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Brian Bremner — Bloomberg Businessweek

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How Herpes Became a Sexual Boogeyman


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If herpes is such a minor deal, why does it come with such a pervasive stigma? In the first half of the 20th century, genital herpes was not on the public radar, and it wasn’t even recognized as a discrete type of herpes infection until the 1960s. But by the 1980s, it was slapped on the cover of Time with headlines like “Herpes: The New Sexual Leprosy.” What happened in the intervening years shows how a public sex panic is made. What’s still happening—herpes shame, fear, and confusion even now—shows how that panic can morph and persist. One of the oddest subplots of the stigma’s endurance has to do with who’s been falsely blamed for making herpes a boogeyman in the first place: drug companies.

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L.V. Anderson — Slate

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What I have learned from my suicidal patients


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When I think of the hundreds of patients I have heard speak of suicide over the past 20 years, whether their own or that of others, and I imagine all those I will no doubt hear in the years of medical practice to come, what seems of most help is not an unwarranted optimism, or a belief that suicide can be right or that it is always wrong, but our flawed human capacity to hold mutually contradictory beliefs and voice them with conviction. When the task in hand is to convince a suicidal patient there is value and purpose in life, then thoughts of suicide are best framed as a shared enemy, a corruption of reality, a manifestation of illness – something to be reasoned away, or quelled with medication. But for the families of the dead, who sit later in the same consulting room, those metaphors of distortion and disease can be unhelpful, even hurtful, and what best replaces them are metaphors of victory and redemption, of suffering followed by release.

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Gavin Francis — The Guardian

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I’m not a junkie. Give me the painkillers, already.


I understand — doctors are responding to the catastrophe of the opioid epidemic. In 2016 alone, more than 42,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses, and about 40 percent of those deaths involved prescription opioids, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Any American who has turned on a TV or opened a laptop or looked at a smartphone during the past few years knows that opioids such as OxyContin are addictive and potentially deadly. Who has been responsible for the carnage? The greedy drugmakers and equally rapacious doctors? The patients who gamed the system to get more painkillers than they need? Some combination of all of them?

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Amber Rose Petrovich — The Washington Post

Is trauma handed down through generations?


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The results are not entirely clear. There are studies which do find negative impacts – that the children of holocaust survivors, for example, can experience emotional problems of their own, difficulties in relationships, in the way they function. Researchers in Northern Ireland concluded that the transmission of trauma to children of victims of the Troubles made them more prone to developing toxic stress in childhood. But some research has ended up in an entirely different place, finding that trauma in a parents’ life can lead to higher resilience in children. And yet more studies have concluded that there is no clear effect whatsoever.

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Bibi van der Zee — The Guardian

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