Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 42, Tuesday March 23, 2004






Interpreter of Maladies

Dr. Nighat Ara, Psychiatrist

Dear Doctor,
I am 23 years old, female, studying in a private university. My problem is I can't make friends with someone better than me, I always end up making friendship with the inferior ones in terms of social status, educational standard. So when I do better than them they can't take it easy and misunderstandings are created between us. Besides, I have never been able to develop any habit. I am too lazy. I understand my potentials and also what I need to do to get to my desired goal, but can never direct myself toward that behaviour in a systematic manner. I am afraid to fall in love and can't judge anything with my own instincts. Do all these fall under any psychological problem? What should I do?

Ans: Dear reader, I must say that I find you as a highly self-monitoring person (you understand what comes into play when you choose a friend, what stops you from falling in love etc.). I also appreciate your capacity to acknowledge your own strength (e.g.-"I understand my potential") Self-monitors are able to separate a part of their consciousness and observe their behaviour from a detached viewpoint. Good news is high self-monitors are usually skilful communicators whereas low self-monitors are not even aware of their own incompetence. However, too much self-monitoring can be problematic as well. In your case, it appears that you are quite critical and judgmental to self (e.g. never been able to develop habits, too lazy). People with poor self-image also suffer from low self-esteem. Inferiority/superiority complexes are different presentations of low self-esteem, it seems that you don't feel safe in relationships and easily get threatened by any change in status. Your self-image seems to be very shaky and vulnerable. I'm not really sure what you meant by never been able to develop any habit? Is it lack of initiative, lack of drive or procrastination? People with depressed moods often suffer from procastrination, which can also be linked to a vicious cycle of low self-esteem. What makes you afraid to fall in love? Fears of rejection, fear of intimacy and abandonment issues are some common underlying reasons. You've also expressed your doubt about your gut feelings ("can't judge anything with my own instincts")- further exploration is needed to understand what this insecurity is about. You are aware of your blockades but need some support from a professional counsellor (with expertise in self-esteem therapies) who will be a co-author in your self-discovery. Human intra-psychic life can be explained using the metaphor of an iceberg. Behaviour is the tip of the iceberg and the huge portion under the water level comprises of feelings-perception-expectation-yearnings etc. The most bottom layer is the true self. Your childhood experiences, your ability to process and analyse them, how you were treated by significant people of your life, how you've coped with adverse life situations- all these are important tools for self-discovery. Telling more about the therapies designed to recover self-esteem is beyond the scope of this column. I would recommend you to focus more on your positive aspects and to treat yourself more gently. Nobody is perfect; as humans we are not meant to be perfect, we can only try to improve ourselves. Listen to your inner voice and try to replace it with some positive messages instead of negative ones. It is important that you do some mental work under proper supervision to feel better about yourself, to make satisfactory progress in relationships and to improve the quality of your life.


Dental wise

DR. Mahfujul Haq Khan BDS, DDS, FSDCE (USA), PhD (Japan), Post Doc. (Japan) Specialised: Crown and Bridge work, and Periodontal plastic surgery (USA) Senior Medical Officer, Department of Dentistry, BIRDEM Hospital

Q:Dear Dr. Khan.
I am 48 years old. When I was 14 years, I had several dental caries, which were filled. Recently, however, my dentist detected several caries and advised for filling and Root canal treatment. Before start my treatment, I have few questions about dental caries. Can you explain me about dental caries, and how we can prevent it? I thought caries were just kid's stuff. Is it true? -Rahim Afroz

A:Dental Caries (Cavity) What is a Cavity?
A cavity is the destruction of the tooth structure (enamel, dentin, and cementum)

And may involve the tooth pulp.
How does a Cavity Form?

The formation of a cavity is due to many factors. For example, the tooth itself plays a role (how strong it is); the mouth's ability to cleanse itself (your flow of saliva); diet (frequency and selection of sugary foods); the bacteria in your mouth (good or bad); and the length of time the tooth is under attack by the bacteria in your mouth.

Heredity: may play a major role in how susceptible you are to the formation of a cavity, for example; Tooth structure, size and shape of the tooth may be passed down through generations. This includes deep pits and grooves which are ideal "plaque traps", and therefore, are susceptible to decay. There may be a higher risk of cavities forming if your parents also had a large number of cavities teeth that are malpositioned in the mouth, that are hard to access with your toothbrush or floss may also provide an ideal breeding ground for the bacterial dental plaque.

Saliva: has a protective function in the mouth, for example: a good flow of saliva washes away food and bacteria that sit on the teeth and gum tissues. Salivary flow helps to neutralise the acids produced by bacteria from plaque, thus a good flow helps reduce the chances of a cavity formation

Diet: a well balanced diet from each of the four major food groups is essential for your oral health, as well as, your overall health. Avoid frequent consumption of high sugar foods, especially sticky foods the longer the time the food stays on your teeth, the greater the chance of forming a cavity.

Time: the actual amount of sugar eaten in one sitting is not as important as when and how often you choose a sugar containing food. The consumption of high sugar foods is best if eaten with a regular meal. This will confine the sugar exposure to one sitting. It's best to eat the whole chocolate bar at once instead of at different periods throughout the day

Bacteria: the mouth harbours many types of bacteria that are considered to be normal in the human mouth. Bacteria, in a healthy mouth tends to live in balance, but for reasons yet to be truly identified, that balance can be tilted and oral disease may result

Fluoride: fluoride provides many benefits. It is found in many products such as toothpaste, mouth rinse, fluoridated drinking water and periodic topical fluoride treatments applied by your dental professional. It aids in the development of sound enamel it helps reduce enamel solubility and increases enamel resistance to acid attack

It prevents demineralisation (the white spot phase of the beginning stages of a cavity), and enhances re-mineralisation of beginning stages of a cavity.
Signs of a Cavity Formation The first sign of a cavity forming may be a white spot, which in time may turn brown.

If it is a white spot, low concentrations of fluoride applied frequently can arrest further development. If the white spot phase progresses, further breakdown of enamel will occur. At this point, a visit to your dental professional is necessary. The cavity may be restored with a filling.

How Do I Prevent Tooth Decay?
You can help prevent tooth decay by following these tips:

Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.

Clean between your teeth daily with floss or inter-dental cleaner.

Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking.

Check with your dentist about use of supplemental fluoride, which strengthens your teeth, and about use of dental sealant (a plastic protective coating) applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from decay.

Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral examination.

Aren't Cavities Just Kid's Stuff?
No. Changes that occur with ageing make cavities an adult problem, too. Recession of the gums away from the teeth, combined with an increased incidence of gum disease, can expose tooth roots to plaque. Tooth roots are covered with cementum, a softer tissue than enamel. They are susceptible to decay and are more sensitive to touch and to hot and cold. The majority of people over age 50 have tooth-root decay.

Decay around the edges, or margins, of fillings is also common to older adults. Because many older adults lacked benefits of fluoride and modern preventive dental care when they were growing up, they often have a number of dental fillings. Over the years, these fillings may weaken and tend to fracture and leak around the edges. Bacteria accumulate in these tiny crevices causing acid to build up which leads to decay.

By The Way

Protect yourself from passive smoking

You may not be a smoker but can you protect yourself from passive smoking? It is an important issue but hardly possible to assert the rights. Most of the time people in our country do not respect non-smokers. In a situation like this it is you who can do something about it. This is what you can do, "If you see anybody SMOKING around you, please TOUCH your NOSE with 3 middle fingers and make a SOUND of COUGHING twice." This is called "MA" method. This is a non-verbal communication from you and can help STOP SMOKING.

By Khan Maruf




One step at a time

My father never spoke of 1971. He was a freedom fighter who lost two of his brothers during the war. He never shared the memories, which remained with vivid clarity in his mind. My brother and I were always eager to hear about the atrocities; growing up in the 80's and 90's, war to us meant images from Hollywood movies. To satisfy our curiosity he bought us every book that ever came out on 1971, but remained silent himself. My father who is now forever silent can not share his memories of 1971, but I now understand why he never spoke of the liberation war. To him, our liberation did not liberate every Bangladeshi, not all got their independence, their freedom, and their justice, so why brag about something that was only half-done? My father's silence reminded me of the failures of our country, it reminded me of the forgotten goals people had set for a free Bangladesh before being liberated, it reminded me of unsolved, overlooked problems, of people who gave up their world but still were insignificant.

I never knew what to do therefore never actively thought about the forgotten people of Bangladesh. Like others Bengalis in America I went about my business remaining Bengali to a safe extent and remaining American to a decent limit. As a duty to my country and remembering my forefathers I attended programs for 26th March and 16th December organized by Bangladesh Embassy or some local organization, and in my free time collected movies in the line of 'Mukir Gaan' and "Ekkattorer Jishu." What more could I do, being so far away from Bangladesh? What could I do for the people whose stories had been erased through the last 33 years? My heart was willing to give something to those people for whom we have a free country, but all those wishes and words made me seem like a fake intellectual full of words and no actions.

Maybe it was the little passion and willingness of many like myself gathered together which created the organization Drishtipat. A few minds got together sometime in the year 2001 to create a non-profit organization called Drishtipat, a non-political expatriate Bangladeshi organization committed to safeguarding every individual's basic democratic rights, including freedom of expression, an organization which is opposed to any and all kinds of human rights abuses in Bangladesh. This wordy description of Drishtipat might seem heavy, but the idea is simple, to ensure the protection of human rights for the people of Bangladesh.

Drishtipat's current project 'Bangla Mayer Bir Meyera" revolves around seven women who were tragically affected during the liberation war of 1971. These women had undergone tremendous torture and struggle during the months of 1971. Their stories have been lost with time and ignorance by Bangladesh's liberated society, by us, by our busy lives focusing on getting ahead. Drishtipat has set forth a goal of raising $10,000 for these seven strong and struggling women, with this money we plan to build them livable homes, independent businesses, to make them independent is the core purpose of this campaign.

Bangladeshi youths living in America are the building products of Drishtipat. We have put together our hearts and brains to plan fundraisers such as documentary screening, dinner and a movie nights, and cultural shows in NY, DC and Chicago. There are active fundraising going on in other parts of U.S.A, Canada and London. The new generation of Bangladeshis in their 20's and 30's are using professional and educational backgrounds to run this campaign as best as they can. The graphic designers are dedicating time to design flyers, tee-shirts, web site materials, the project managers are keeping the team organized, and the marketing experts are spreading the word through their grape vines, both in the e-world and real.

As we plan our Drishtipat fundraiser event for the Washington D.C area, we hear people asking us why are we only helping seven war victims? Why not more? We answer them saying "We are doing what we can in our capacity. To think big, you have to start small.' Really, is it so small to bring back a lost smile on a deserving face? I must admit though, aside from the doubtful, paranoid, questioning crowd, we have received a very positive response from Bengalis living abroad. Helping others without being branded with a certain political group or agenda is truly refreshing. The reaction too, from Bangladeshis living abroad just goes to prove we all want to help and want to be active in giving back to Bangladesh but we were just looking for a cause worthwhile and Drishtipat has brought that to us.

We are the children of freedom fighters. We grew up in a free land, breathing free air, taking it all for granted. Our fathers expressed their concerns through silence, and now it's up to us to express ours through productive actions. So we have started, one step at a time…

By Iffat Newaz



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