Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 43, Tuesday March 30, 2004






Interpreter of Maladies

Dr. Nighat Ara, Psychiatrist

Q. I have twin sons. They are 19 years of age. A year ago one them got admitted to a reputed university while the other one failed. They always studied together their entire life. They shared everything including class lectures and notes. This is their style. Now this separation is effecting them. One of them (the one who failed) is becoming more and more isolated from friends. He is not involved in anything. It seems he is missing something. I am worried about both of them. Please help.

Ans.: Your twin sons are separated for the first time in life and the reason of this separation is awful. They are in their late teens, definitely they are going through lot of changes in both their internal and external world. Unfortunately, one of your sons "succeeded" and other one "failed". We have different kinds of success "myths" in this society- good grade, reputed university, specific job, bank balance, big house etc. We define success from a narrow point of view and tend to undermine the huge potential of the so-called unsuccessful person and label them as "loser". In a fiercely competitive society, parents also push hard their children to excel, this leads them to believe that their whole worth lies in "success" or "failure". Eventually life loses its natural essence and this person suffers from toxic shame of failure, which makes him feel inadequate, insignificant or unworthy. Shame is a very normal human experience and drives people to work hard to achieve something desirable. However, toxic shame reduces a person and initiates a downward spiral of self-destruction. To cover up this pain, he puts on mask of indifference, arrogance or isolation. Your son's social withdrawal and isolation could be an impact of this "failure". Our present society and education system teaches and promotes competition. Ironically, the more one becomes competitive, the less one can sustain competition. There is also ample room to raise a doubt how effective these admission systems are to detect the talents? Isn't the system itself faulty with defective measuring techniques, which allows lot of talents to fall through the cracks? Nevertheless, competitions between two brothers are not at all a pleasant experience. Sadly enough, the twin brothers are likely to be compared all the time. Comparison is a direct insult to their individuality. In order to recover from shame, a person needs to come out of hiding and seek support. Professional counselling can help him to recover from shame, get back his grip on life and grow to his fullest potential. Sometimes, teen-agers suffer from mood swings and as a developmental task they need more privacy and isolation to grow into an adult and separate them from their parents. Talk to your son when he is receptive and try to understand his need.

Q.Why do we dream? How can I see my father, who passed away recently in my dreams?

Ans: Dream is the product of activity of brain cells while we are sleeping. In sleep, our voluntary part of brain doesn't work and the inhibitory function of the higher centers of the brain remains turned off. Thus in absence of higher control over the lower centers of the brain, the unconscious mind comes into play. Sigmund Freud gave some explanations of dream. According to him, dream has manifest content which are usually symbolic. Dream also performs some important functions of brain, it is not totally useless. Wish fulfilment (any suppressed wish may appear in your dream as real!) and problem solving (if you've worked hard consciously to find a solution of a problem, the unconscious brain may process it and come up with a solution!) may also occur in dreams. However, your desire to see your deceased father in dream indicates you probably have some unfinished work left with him. The more you think about him in your conscious moment, the more possibility of dreaming him. Some unsupported evidences also claim that when two persons have very close and strong emotional bondage, they can communicate through dreams. Dream analysis gained much popularity in the past. At present, lack of advancement in this field is noticeable.


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

Dear Dr. Khan
My son, age 20, may need some root canal treatment. What is a Root Canal? Is it painful treatment? What is the procedure of root canal? He is not diabetic patient, but is it possible to do his dental treatment in BIRDEM hospital under your supervision?
Mohiuddin Ahmed

Dear Mr. Mohiuddin, What is a Root Canal?
Underneath your tooth's outer enamel and within the dentin is an area of soft tissue called the pulp, which carries the tooth's nerves, veins, arteries and lymph vessels. Root canals are very small, thin divisions that branch off from the top pulp chamber down to the tip of the root. A tooth has at least one but no more than four root canals.

Is it painful treatment?
No, not at all! Nowadays, dentistry is painless practice.

What is a root canal procedure?
A root canal is a procedure done to save the damaged or dead pulp in the root canal of the tooth by cleaning out the diseased pulp and reshaping the canal. The canal is filled with gutta percha, a rubber like material, to prevent recontamination of the tooth. The tooth is then permanently sealed with possibly a post and/or a gold or porcelain crown. This enables patients to keep the original tooth.

Yes it is possible to do it in department of dentistry, BIRDEM hospital under my supervision. You can consult with me from 7.30am to 2.00pm (Except Friday, Govt. Holiday), room No. 258.

Dear Doctor
I am a 52 year-old male. One of my lower chewing teeth, which had been filled around 20 years back, is now giving me some problems. I feel pain in that tooth if I accidentally bite something hard. This happens when a small but hard thing (e.g. chanachur, dal bhaja etc.) gets pressed by the middle portion of that tooth. When I wake up in the morning, I have a feeling that the tooth is having more weight than others. I thought that the filling of the tooth has been somehow damaged or dislodged but my dentist checked it physically with x-ray and did not find any problem with the filling. He suggested some additional effort to keep the tooth clean of bacteria especially where the floss or brush can not reach. I am following his instructions but am still not convinced about the status of filling. What is your opinion? Is there any other way to check the condition of the filling and whether it will be wise to remove the old filling and refill it again?
ORL Kabir

Dear Mr. Kabir,
The way you have presented your complaint, seems to me that you may need root canal treatment. I think you have "Crack Tooth Syndrome" (Micro fracture) and some times it is quite difficult job for us to detect by only x-ray. Nowadays we are using a very special type of electric device (pulp tester) to check the vitality (dead or alive) of that particular tooth. The line of your treatment plan should be; First check the vitality by pulp tester and remove the old filling. After removing that old filling, it will give us clear view whether the pulp is exposed or having any micro fracture. Finally you may need root canal treatment if the vitality test indicate that this is a dead one. If the vitality test indicate it is vital, then refilling should be done instead of root canal. Please do not wait, save your valuable teeth.

By The Way

Don't diet

If you concentrate on what you add to your meals rather than what you take away, you never feel deprived. Fad diets can be seductive. Anorexic thinking pivots on the myth of control: that controlling caloric intake might ease the sense of overwhelming enormity of other challenges. Healthy bodies and brains need every wholesome calorie that can get. Cutting out junk food will keep a body healthily slim.






Tinted truths

A New York Penthouse, a red Mercedes and an endless chorus line of blonde Baywatch babes, what an alluring dream for many bachelors living in and around the Sub Continent.ÊThe story goes, Boy goes to school, gets a higher degree, Boy's best friend moves to U.S.A while Boy tries to make a decent career with the means that the Third World provides. Boy gets calls from his best friend living in America who apparently landed the best of job, and now busy cherishing his newfound fame and money with a Britney Spears look alike. Hanging up the phone Boy goes to sleep under his mosquito net, sweating in summer heat and dreaming of the better life that America offers.

In reality, the Boy's best friend is most probably a busboy or gas station attendee, earning minimum wage, sharing a one bedroom apartment with eight other roommates and throwing ideas out of the window of going back to school for a higher degree. This is a common story, so common that film producers and directors have made oodles of money making movies around this theme, like 'The Guru,' or "Green Card Fever."

I admit that most immigrant men do not end up in the pornographic industry or become a religious leader in search of a career as they showed in "The Guru." However, "The Guru," does give a true picture of immigrants lying shamelessly about their whereabouts and lifestyles in U.S.A to their relatives and friends back home. I once knew someone from New York who told people in Bangladesh that he worked for NYSDOT (when something is said in acronyms it sounds important, and if one does not know what NYSDOT stands for, one would dare not to ask in fear of sounding foolish). So hearing he works for NYSDOT impressed relatives and friends gave him a "wow" and an "aha" covered with envy.ÊNYSDOT stands for New York State Department of Transportation, and this particular man who said he worked for NYSDOT was not fully wrong either, he was a taxi driver in New York City. A tinted lie can take you far you see.

If you are living in Bangladesh, have you noticed how people in America are starting their careers making in average $60,000 at least?Ê Have you realized how everyone just finds a job right after they graduate from the universities and how they can afford the coolest of cars and mostly spend their time shopping in expensive stores and going club and bar hopping? The truth of the matter is, the average income for a recent graduate stands somewhere around $35,000. This figure varies of course from career to career. According to a research done by Wagner college, a recent Bachelors degree holder in Computer Science receives $25,000, in English receives in average $31,000, in Mathematics $38,000 and in Biology $40,000.

According to the Business Journal, the national average living cost in the United States is $2,159 a month.ÊTherefore, in average a person spends $25,908 in a year for just living cost. From this, we can conclude a recent computer science graduate earning $25,000 is $908 short of meeting his essential living costs, and the ones graduating with an English degree has an access of $5,092, which will buy neither a penthouse nor a Mercedes. These living costs do not include overseas trips or luxurious items such as a surround sound system, which all Bengalis have to have, or a flat screen television without which Ashwariya Rai just does not look as appealing. One would think looking at the average earnings and living costs, the general population is barely just tying their ends. There is no such thing as bragging cost, however. So the immigrant making minimum wage or average salary can color his present all he wants when he talks to friends and relatives back home using a $5 calling card which lets you talk for 6 hours to Dhaka (about the only great deal $5 in America will get you).

I knew a Bangladeshi gentleman who was a hiring manager for a very reputable company in USA. To help other young men he made a business trip back home planning to recruit freshly graduated students from Bangladesh for his company. He visited all the top universities and spoke to candidates, offering them $35,000 as starting salary with sponsorship to America. No one from Bangladesh responded to his offer; in the end, he traveled to India and recruited the necessary number of people. The Bangladeshi candidates thought the hiring manager was giving them a raw deal, since they heard their friends abroad boasting about making way more than a mere $35,000. They let go of what might have been an excellent opportunity, trusting lies of the immigrant friends who are feeding their egos with made-up stories.

We Bengalis are romantic and imaginative. We are dreamers. We grow up reading Tagore and Saratchandra; our minds are full of creative stories and ideas. Perhaps this strong imagination makes the failed immigrants cook-up such make believe stories. They speak of their dreams pretending it is true, and people in Bangladesh believe it and make it more real. I cannot stop people from telling lies but I hope this piece of truth opens some eyes.

By Iffat Newaz



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2003 The Daily Star