Friday, March 18, 2011

Bye Bye Therapy

A typical course of a modern talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, consists of 12-16 hour-long sessions and is a reasonably efficient way of treating conditions like depression and anxiety (hysteria is no longer a recognised diagnosis). Medication, too, can bring rapid change. Nevertheless, treating disorders of the psyche is still a hit-and-miss affair, and not everyone wishes to bare his soul or take mind-altering drugs to deal with his problems. A new kind of treatment may, though, mean he does not have to. Cognitive-bias modification (CBM) appears to be effective after only a few 15-minute sessions, and involves neither drugs nor the discussion of feelings. It does not even need a therapist. All it requires is sitting in front of a computer and using a program that subtly alters harmful thought patterns.

Psychiatry: Therapist-free therapy | The Economist

New computer based psychotherapy that could prove very helpful. Especially in this part of the world where psychotherapy is still frowned upon. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

King's Speech

I got a chance to watch this wonderful and inspiring movie that deservedly won Oscar awards. The acting was impeccable. The message that came through the stuttering, and in spite of the stuttering, was loud and clear.

A King was facing external battles, in the form of Hitler's Germany lurking by as well as difficult succession of a passing King, and internal ones, lack of belief and an ensuing stutter. Through persistence and humility of a helping soul the difficulty was overcome to unleash greatness.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Bling-Bling History

He first trotted out the notion of a Maison de l’Histoire a few years ago while concocting a ministry for immigration and national identity. The president described both undertakings as responses to the country’s dwindling morale. His culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, chimed in, promising that the history museum would illuminate France’s “soul,” whatever that meant. Henri Guaino, the president’s speechwriter on matters of national identity and an important player in proposing the museum, went further, envisioning the Maison as a solution to the nation’s “identity crisis.”

Sarkozy’s History Museum Plan in Paris Stirs Controversy - NYTimes.com

I had a very interesting conversation with my dear friend Jacques about the French identity recently. What triggered the conversation was the way France dealt with hijab by prohibiting it to preserve the French identity. I clarified to Jacques my disagreement to this approach of preserving national identity by enforcing a single identity. I explained my admiration of the US model of multiculturalism.

Jacques explained to me where this approach has come from. Since the French society has been historically factious, there has been much emphasis on unity and centralization. It seems Sarkozy is now jumping on the national identity crisis wagon! (despite his multicultural background!) I wonder if his motivation is real or political..

Friday, March 04, 2011

Dignity, Not Just Bread

In Saudi Arabia itself, last week, seven men were thrown in jail for establishing a political party. This week King Abdullah, who is 86, returned to the country after lengthy medical treatment overseas. He offered $37 billion in new public spending to stave off unrest. Civil servants will get a pay rise; unemployed students will get grants; more housing is to be built. But as Shibley Telhami, a Middle East specialist at the Brookings Institution, has observed, Arab protesters are seeking dignity, not just bread. Saudis have been offered no more say in the way they are governed.

The nervous Gulf: Bullets and bribes | The Economist

The rich Gulf is not isolated from the events going on in the region. Even though the events were sparked by hunger and dismal living standards, peoples' aspirations go beyond their stomach and comfort. People aspire to be dignified human beings with rights and responsibilities towards their countries. In other words: citizens not just inhabitants.