Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 55, Tuesday July 26, 2005




Interpreter of Maladies

Dr. Nighat Ara, Psychiatrist

Dear Dr.
The problem I shall refer to is regarding my parents. For the last 2 or 3 years, my family experienced several disasters including accidents, diseases, bank loans, and some other problems. In fact my parents haven't had any good news in years. Me and my brothers and sisters are taking it easy, as we have accepted it as a part of life, but my parents are totally losing faith in life. They have completely lost the ability to have a positive outlook. Not the disasters, but rather, it is this attitude of my parents that is upsetting our peace of mind. They are affecting us without knowing it. Can you suggest any solution to this problem? Is there any way of helping them regain their confidence?

Ans: Your family is going through a prolonged stressful period and it seems that your parents cannot cope with it any more. This happens particularly when things go so wrong one after another without giving any recovery time in between. Although we have no control over certain life situations, we can do our best to prevent it, or take necessary precaution to control the damage caused by it. Your parents are stressed out no doubt, but the lack of initiation to recover from it is really disturbing. Hopelessness, lack of drive and always feeling miserable are important signs of Depression.

Antidepressant medications are used to help people recover from this mental state. Prolonged stress and major life events or setbacks can precipitate depression in a vulnerable person. Personality type (hostile, depressed, pessimist etc), personal habits (lack of physical exercise, bad eating habits etc), level of social support (friends, family and other resources) -- all these factors make people more prone to react in a particular way to negative life events. Although accident, diseases and bank loans at times cannot be prevented, it is possible to gain some control over the consequences they bring. People who lack stress management capacity easily lose control over their lives and become bad role models for their children. Cognitive behaviour therapy can allow people to bring positive personal changes and handle life stresses more effectively. Rational emotive therapy teaches people how to challenge irrational negative thoughts, and Gestalt's existential therapy shows people how to "celebrate each moment of life" (instead of living in the past or future, try to live in this present moment of time to live a full life). Feelings of stress occur "when a person perceives that the demands of the environment exceed the personal or social resources the individual is able to mobilise at that time".

So, the target action has to be directed either to reduce the demand, or to increase the personal coping ability. Since both your parents are reacting the same way, it is highly likely that they are co-dependent on each other (hence augmenting each other's dysfunctional behaviour) and are unable to break this cycle without outside intervention. Sometimes stress also allows one to keep his or her authoritarian management style (the authoritarian style of "just do what I say!" is usually permissible under a crisis situation. If someone maintains a permanently stressed crisis atmosphere, s/he can justify an authoritarian style all the time) and that becomes a kind of reward to stick to this "always in stress" mood.

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
Recently I have started taking 'gool' to mitigate my severe toothache. It is widely used as a toothpaste by many people. However there are many who believe that using 'gool' will cause oral or throat cancer. I heard that it also damage eye sight. As a specialist in dentistry what is your opinion in this matter. Thank you,
Shawkat-ur-Rashid Khan

Dear Mr. Shawkat
Smokeless tobacco (Gool) or related other products is nothing but cause addiction. It has been in existence for thousands of years among populations in South America and Southeast Asia. Gool is consumed without burning the product, and can be used orally or nasally. These products are placed in the mouth, cheek or lip and sucked (dipped) or chewed and placed on the gums or teeth. There is sufficient evidence that the use of smokeless tobacco causes cancer in humans. Gool contains carcinogens, which contribute to cancers of the oral cavity and the risk of other head and neck cancers. It also causes a number of noncancerous oral conditions and can lead to nicotine addiction similar to that produced by cigarette smoking. It also cause advance gum disease which may cause early lose of teeth. Basically Gool has no merits in our health rather it should be discouraged and need declaration of banned item. In southeast Asia including Bangladesh; the incidence of Oral cancer is about 20-30%, on the other hand in USA, and Japan this rate is less than 5%. So it is already established that this high incidence is because of abnormal oral habit (Gool, bidi, pan etc) among the people of this subcontinent. In recent studies it has been shown that it contain certain chemicals which has some effects on pain control but on the other hand these chemicals has strong correlation to tissue change which tern in to cancer.

Dear Dr.Khan,
Can you tell me something about painless root canal treatment? You mentioned that Dentistry is no longer painfull treatment". I did a root canal treatment few months backÊthough it wasÊnot painless procedure.
My dentist told me that I need three more root canal treatment. I am little affraid to do it. can you tell me how can I reduce the pain during treatment? How you reduce the pain? Do you have special medicine? Do you have special instruments? Do you have special technique? Thanks

Dear Ms Shilpi,
The most fear-evoking thing a dentist can say to his or her patient is "You need root canal on that tooth." Some patients become pale, other say, "No way, I'll have the tooth pulled." Then I ask them if they ever had a root canal before, and most will say that they haven't. So then I ask them why they are so afraid of the procedure. They usually tell me that they heard a horror story about root canal from their relatives, friends. Certainly, this kind of second-hand learning can have a powerful impact on people. Likewise, there are other people who have a negative attitude about root canal and have actually had a bad experience themselves. They talk about the pain they suffered during treatment, and the many hours and multiple visits that it took to complete. It's no wonder that so many people cringe when they hear their dentist say the words ROOT CANAL.
The perception of root canals being painful began decades ago when root canal treatment was painful. In fact, a recent survey showed that patients who have experienced root canal treatment are six times more likely to describe it as "painless" than patients who have not had root canal treatment.
Well, I've got some good news for everyone who needs a root canal to save their tooth. New techniques have greatly reduced the time needed to perform a root canal, and also greatly limited the potential for discomfort. You might be wondering, "How is this possible?" The answer is that new technology makes it possible. You will be relieved to know that in the vast majority of cases, root canal can be completed painlessly. Some patients fear the anesthetic more than the procedure. Injections can hurt when the anesthetic enters the gum tissues too quickly. The key to a painless injection is to administer the anesthetic syringe very slowly after applying a topical anesthetic (Gel) to the gum.
For further information visit Dr. Khan's website www.aikodental.com

By The Way

Wait till its time

Parents often give walkers to their babies. The general idea is to help them learn to walk faster and perfectly. However research shows that no matter how hard you try to help, the baby will start walking when it is time for him to walk. In fact, walkers sometimes cause accidents as babies often bump in to furnitures or heavy objects. So don't be too eager to see your baby grow up. Just wait till its time, s/he will grow just fine.


By Iffat Nawaz

The Adams behind the Eves

"Hey la muchacha habla español? Viene aquí" spoken with much enthusiasm, under sunny or dark skies, perverted lips moving fast, eyes popping out to run and get you, translating to "hey pretty girl speak Spanish? Come here." I don't mean to stereotype or commit racism, I only quoted this in Spanish because I was trying out Google's language tools. These Spanish words are often spoken to some non-Spanish us (women of all races and colors) crossing construction sites or just on the streets in certain neighborhoods.

In other neighborhoods, it might be another language…maybe even twisted new English like "Yo girl, mmm mmm mmm aren't you just a fine piece of work…come here and give me some" usually coming out from the wanna-be-ghetto or pure ghetto crowds, semi-irritating and scary. Sometimes they decide to follow you, and with no response from your side will pass you and say "you ain't all that anyway." And for the first time in your life you probably sigh with the biggest relief hearing this insult that "you are not all that."

The other day right after such an incident I was walking fast with a boiling mind that wanted to sweat off all frustrations before reaching my destination. Growing up in Dhaka I am immune to these taunting and eve-teasing. I mean for God's sake, we have it in every corner, the disgusting comments & the stares and we grow up learning to be numb towards it. We say, "only in Bangladesh can people act like such pathetic idiots." But that's actually not true, it's not only in Bangladesh, it's here too, maybe not in the same degree and intensity, but it's still here; Eves and Adams never get along in the streets as strangers be it Bangladesh or U.S.A.

And it's not only in the ghetto or a foreign neighborhood that eve-teasing exists. There are so many levels of eve-teasing some of which is actually welcomed by us eves.
The silent attention, the feeling of being checked out, the subtle or hard gazes, we attract it & we enjoy it. It's when the delivery gets raw, when there is no class to the performance, its then that we feel insulted. Question is, why not before that?

Well it's all about crossing the line right? But are they all an ego-boosters for us women, and if it's not, then why during the days when less stares shoot my way do I sneak a quick peek at the small cosmetic mirror in my purse to see if my hair is okay or if I look alright!

When you do a definition search for Eve teasing on the web the first thing that comes up is "Eve teasing is a euphemism used in India for sexual harassment or molestation of women by men. Considered a growing problem throughout the subcontinent, eve teasing ranges in severity from sexually colored remarks to outright groping." Notice how it's very specific to India, the sub-continent, our never-up-to-par part of the world…so now harassment is also geographical?

To defend the pathetic Bengali street oglers (I never thought I would do this), I have to say, when something like eve-teasing (high and low levels) exists in America, being one of the least oppressed society, America with its bars, night clubs, lounges and coffee shops in every corner welcoming strangers to become acquaintances, and even after that the "checking out," "commenting, and unwelcome "hit ons" don't stop…so why wouldn't an oppressed society with a hush-hush sexuality," act the way Bangladesh does. Bangladesh's behavior is not legitimate but it's understandable.

I guess there are many excuses, hormones and early civilization instincts when people just pursued each other without any thoughts of consequences.

My new goal is to use the phrase Eve-teasing as frequently as I can, I trust in people, I trust in USA's readiness for a new catch-phrase crowd, and I believe, soon America too will admit the flaws of Adams and come out from the denial of teasing the Eves


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