When the Body Says No — Caring for ourselves while caring for others. Dr. Gabor Maté

Stress is ubiquitous these days — it plays a role in the workplace, in the home, and virtually everywhere that people interact. It can take a heavy toll on individuals unless it is recognized and managed effectively and insightfully. This is even more true for parents, family members and caregivers of individuals with neuro-behavioural disorders such as FASD, and if left unchecked, accumulated stress goes on to undermine immunity, disrupts the body’s physiological milieu and can prepare the ground for a multitude chronic diseases and conditions.
This presentation, adapted for this conference, is based on When The Body Says No, a best-selling book that has been translated into more than twelve languages on five continents.

How Trump’s State of the Union Guests Embodied His Politics of Fear and Dread

Trump is certainly not the first President to shape a story by inviting people to be lauded during his State of the Union address. Barack Obama invited twenty-three different people to his last address, in 2016; at least fifteen of them were activists, working on causes including homelessness, opioid addiction, access to education, same-sex marriage, discrimination against Muslims, and more. The stories they embodied were ones of overcoming adversity but also of working with others toward a better future. Trump’s guests, on the other hand, were all survivors.

They survived D Day.

They survived decades in American prisons and, through the study of religion, earned second chances in their late middle age.

They survived unimaginable grief.

They survived immigration.

They survived cancer. (Notably, although one of Trump’s more ambitious promises was to eliminate new H.I.V. infections within ten years, there was no guest with a story of surviving with H.I.V.)

They survived losing a child.

They survived a mass shooting.

And they survived the Holocaust.

The sole exception to this narrative was the astronaut whose achievement was fifty years old.

Living with a sense of danger so profound and so constant, a people would be unable to think of much beyond immediate survival. They could have little ambition for technological or scientific achievement. They could have no vision of organizing their society in a better, more equitable way. With fear as their only political motivator, their only goal could be a united front. If they felt constantly on the brink of extinction, that might help explain why, on the one hand, they armed themselves obsessively, and, on the other, they put people behind bars for decades at a time. And, living in this constant state of dread, they could not have the presence of mind, or the imagination, to tackle the longer-term danger of climate change—which, of course, makes it less likely that a future historian will be looking at Trump’s State of the Union address at all.

Adverse Childhood Experiences International Questionnaire (ACE-IQ)

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) refer to some of the most intensive and frequently occurring sources of stress that children may suffer early in life. Such experiences include multiple types of abuse; neglect; violence between parents or caregivers; other kinds of serious household dysfunction such as alcohol and substance abuse; and peer, community and collective violence.

It has been shown that considerable and prolonged stress in childhood has life-long consequences for a person’s health and well-being. It can disrupt early brain development and compromise functioning of the nervous and immune systems. In addition because of the behaviours adopted by some people who have faced ACEs, such stress can lead to serious problems such as alcoholism, depression, eating disorders, unsafe sex, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

Antifa and the Alt-Right, Growing in Opposition to One Another

There is a cancer in the body politic. We must cut it out, or be destroyed.

.. America has cancer. On Saturday, a crowd of alt-right white supremacists, neo-confederates, and Nazi sympathizers marched in Charlottesville, Va.; they were confronted by a large group of protesters including members of the Marxist Antifa — a group that has time and again plunged volatile situations into violence, from Sacramento to Berkeley. There’s still no certain knowledge of who began the violence, but before long, the sides had broken into the sort of brutal scrum that used to characterize Weimer-era Germany.

.. The president of the United States promptly failed egregiously to condemn alt-right racism; instead, he opted for a milquetoast statement condemning “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”

New York Times journalist Sheryl Gay Stolberg for having the temerity to report that “the hard left seemed as hate-filled as the alt-right”; and suggesting that all conservatives were, at root, sympathizers with the Nazi-friendly alt-right.

.. On the one side, a racist, identity-politics Left dedicated to the proposition that white people are innate beneficiaries of privilege and therefore must be excised from political power; on the other side, a reactionary, racist, identity-politics alt-right dedicated to the proposition that white people are innate victims of the social-justice class and therefore must regain political power through race-group solidarity.

But both movements had been steadily shrinking until the last few years. Now they’re growing. And they’re largely growing in opposition to one another. In fact, the growth of each side reinforces the growth of the other: The mainstream Left, convinced that the enemies of social-justice warriors are all alt-right Nazis, winks and nods at left-wing violence; the right, convinced that its SJW enemies are focused on racial polarization, embraces the alt-right as a form of resistance. Antifa becomes merely a radical adjunct to traditional Democratic-party politics; the alt-right becomes merely a useful tool for scurrilous Republican politicians and media figures.

  1. President Obama allowed the politics of racial fragmentation to fester on his watch; he repeatedly trafficked in broad generalities about American racism. Obama focused incessantly on the specter of white bigotry: “the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives,” embedded in our collective DNA. In response, an identity politics began creepily infusing the Right, with some white people embracing the mold cast upon them by the Left, creating a soft racial solidarity in backlash. This, of course, only strengthened the Left’s views of white privilege, which in turn strengthened the Right’s views of white victimhood.
  2. Left-wing media — and “objective” media — saw an advantage in highlighting the antics of racists such as Richard Spencer and David Duke. Focusing on the racist alt-right allowed the media to draw the convenient conclusion that the alt-right was a growing force in Republican politics that had to be fought through support for Democrats. Meanwhile, the media cast a blind eye toward Antifa’s violent Weimer-style rioting in Sacramento and Berkeley… shills such as Milo Yiannopoulos. That rebranding provided a convenient way of fighting the Left: “If the Left is calling us alt-right, that’s just because they hate that we stand for Western civilization!”.. [Obama] made excuses for riots in Ferguson and Baltimore. He used the shooting of Dallas police officers by a radical black activist as an opportunity to lecture Americans about the evils of racist policing. He knew that his political support came in large measure from SJWs, and he cultivated them.

    .. Meanwhile, on the right, Trump did the same. During the campaign, he ignored opportunity after opportunity to break with the alt-right. He refused to condemn the KKK on national television; he refused to condemn his supporters’ sending anti-Semitic messages to journalists; he hired as his campaign strategist Steve Bannon, a man who openly celebrated turning Breitbart into a “platform for the alt-right.” Trump saw the alt-right as convenient allies

..The mainstream Left has been increasingly suckered into walking hand-in-hand with the SJWs while ignoring the most egregious activities of Antifa; the mainstream Right has been increasingly seduced into footsie with alt-right associates while feigning ignorance at the alt-right itself.

That’s why Charlottesville matters: not only because we saw destruction and terror, but because if all Americans of good conscience won’t do some soul-searching and move to excise the evil in their midst, that evil will metastasize. There is a cancer in the body politic. We must cut it out, or be destroyed.

 

The Hijacked American Presidency

Trump himself is the offense. Everything that springs from him, every person who supports him, every staffer who shields him, every legislator who defends him, is an offense. Every partisan who uses him — against all he or she has ever claimed to champion — to advance a political agenda and, in so doing, places party over country, is an offense.

.. We must remind ourselves that Trump’s very presence in the White House defiles it and the institution of the presidency. Rather than rising to the honor of the office, Trump has lowered the office with his whiny, fragile, vindictive pettiness.

.. This latest episode is simply part of a body of work demonstrating the man’s utter contempt for decency.

.. [Republicans] have surrendered any moral authority to which they once laid claim — rightly or not. If Trump goes down, they all do.

.. A madman and his legislative minions are holding America hostage.

.. It is what it is and has been from day one: The most extraordinary and profound electoral mistake America has made in our lifetimes and possibly ever.

.. We must always remember that although individual Americans made the choice to vote affirmatively for him or actively withhold their support from his opponent, those decisions were influenced, in ways we cannot calculate, by Russian interference in our election, designed to privilege Trump.

.. We must remember that we now have a president exerting power to which he may only have access because a foreign power hostile to our interests wanted him installed.

.. Trump simply lied when he said that he would have won the popular vote were it not for millions of illegal votes.

.. He is banking on your becoming overwhelmed by his never-ending antics.

.. Trump is an abomination, and a cancer on the country, and none of us can rest until he is no longer holding the reins of power.

A disturbing report from the front lines of the war on cancer.

“The Death of Cancer” is an angry book, in which one of the critical figures in twentieth-century oncology unloads a lifetime of frustration with the obduracy and closed-mindedness of his profession. DeVita concludes, “There are incredibly promising therapies out there. If used to their fullest potential for all patients, I believe we could cure an additional 100,000 patients a year.”

.. Baffled, he asked one of the hospital’s leading oncologists, Barney Clarkson, to explain exactly how he was administering the MOPP protocol. Clarkson answered that he and his colleagues had decided to swap the nitrogen mustard in DeVita’s formula for a drug called thiotepa. This was a compound they had developed in-house at Memorial Sloan Kettering and felt partial to. So MOPPwas now TOPP.

.. “Why in God’s name have you done this?” he asked.

A voice piped up from the audience. “Well, Vince, most of our patients come to us on the subway, and we don’t want them to vomit on the way home.”

Here were physicians at one of the world’s greatest cancer hospitals denying their patients a potentially life-saving treatment because their way felt better. Stories like this are why DeVita believes that a hundred thousand cancer patients in the United States die needlessly every year.

.. The angriest chapter of “The Death of Cancer” is devoted to the Food and Drug Administration, because DeVita believes that it has fundamentally misunderstood the trade-off between diffusion and innovation. The agency wants all new drugs to be shown to be safe and efficacious, to be as good as or better than existing therapies (or a placebo) in a randomized experiment involving the largest possible number of patients. For example, the F.D.A. might ask that patients getting an experimental treatment have better long-term survival rates than those receiving drug treatments already in use. The F.D.A. is the country’s diffusion gatekeeper: its primary goal is to make sure that good drugs get a gold star and bad drugs never make it to market.

.. A given tumor, for instance, can rarely be stopped with a single drug. Cancer is like a door with three locks, each of which requires a different key. Suppose you came up with a drug that painlessly opened the first of those three locks. That drug would be a breakthrough. But it can’t cure anything on its own. So how do you get it through a trial that requires proof of efficacy—especially if you don’t yet know what the right keys for the two remaining locks are?

.. Drugs are now approved not for a specific cancer or for general use in a variety of cancers but for a specific stage of a specific cancer and specifically after and only after patients have had all current treatments, which are listed drug by drug, and the treatments have all failed. Doctors risk F.D.A. censure if they use an approved drug under any other circumstances, and patients are penalized because insurance companies won’t pay for treatments not approved by the F.D.A.

The vital insight gained by using an approved drug in a different way for a different tumor has been lost.