Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dealing with Loss and Pain

As I read the four essays, I was intrigued and shocked.  All of the stories painted a vivid mental image and I felt as though I was feeling what the authors were feeling.  All of these essays dealt with  loss in some kind of way.  The essay I liked the most was Love of My Life by Strayed.  Strayed didn't only have a very interesting story to tell but she made some interesting agruments.  She argues that there is not an single, set way of going through grief and that it is not right to make it seem as all losses have the same emotional impact from one individual to the next.  As a matter of fact Strayed, didn't go through the prescribed stages of grief she simply fucks to deal with her grief and say outright that she would replace her moms lost with someone else who wouldn't be missed as much as she misses her mom. In Beard's essay, I found the relationship Jo Ann had with the dog was a little bit odd.  I don't know maybe because I am not a big fan of dogs.  It seemed as though when I was reading her story,  I found myself reading it over again because it was like she was going from an awake state to a dreaming state.  I was shocked how Beard's story turned out, I had no idea.    The Fishing story reminded me of a movie I once watched called The Family That Preys and I was the least interesting out of all the readings. All in all, I liked these four selections because they allowed  me to see how different people with different experiences deal with loss.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I must say that this book was a very compelling and graphic. As I was reading this book, I had a hard time convincing myself that this book was a work of fiction. Ironically, I found this book to be equally inspiring as it was unfortunate.

Precious had alot of anger and pain boiling inside of her and it made her confused, aggressive, rude, and doubt her self-worth. And to read about her complete turn around when she started to go to the alternative school ,was a suprise as much as it was inspiring. After going through the terrible things in her life, she was more than committed to bettering herself and the life of her two children.

What really bothered me was when she expressed hate for her father for raping her but at the same time found it to be pleasurable. This was a major conflicting feeling that made Precious confused and hate herself. Having two children by her father, one at twelve and the other at sixteen; being abused, neglected, and molested by her mother; and getting HIV from her father would drive me right over a cliff. Precious was a very strong girl.

Sapphire did a great job transforming the words on the pages to an undeniable, vivid mental image and letting the reader walk in the shoes of Precious.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Songs of Pain

Well, I must say : I'm guilty of liking all those songs. As a listened to the variety of rap, rock,and hip hop selections, I found that there were reoccurring themes of violence, drug use, relationships, crushes, sex, and break-ups. I would say that this songs use pain and those themes to achieve popularity with teenagers and young adults, such as myself. During teenage and young adult years, the processes of finding oneself is achieved by heavily the music you listen to. Most of the music that caters to teenagers and young adults, are those that have the message of conflicting ideas ( such as "Come As You Go"), a sense of urgency, and the "Say and Do Anything attitude". All these messages are some of the obstacles teenagers and young adults face, so composing a song that has these messages gives them a feeling that there is something they can relate to when there is no possibilty to relate to parents or peers.

Four songs stuck out to me: Bleeding Love, You Oughta Know, F..k It, and F.U.R.B. These stuck with me because they were particularily graphic in their description, language, and images. In Bleeding Love, she describes her love by cutting open her veins and bleeding love;it is a very vivid and graphic image, to say the least. In You Oughta Know, there is explicit sexual behavior, profanities, and a frankness in the lyrics that quite honeslty might excite a teenager or young adult rather than make them cringe. The F..k It-F.U.R.B. rebuttal is quite hiliarioius. This back and forth promotes the idea of "getting even" and uses profanity in almost every line as well as sexual behavior. There is alot of emotion, anger, and pain jam-packed in all these songs that it is ALMOST hard to fathom.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Wounded Storyteller

As a pre-med student, I must tell you I really enjoyed this book. After reading this book, I had a completely new outlook on how I view the "wounded storyteller" and her story. I found myself thinking back to the stories of illnesses that I have heard and how I reacted to it and I must tell you that I never thought about any of the things Frank's talks about. This is probably because I have never been ill to point were a needed surgery or any other serious treatment. But I must say going to the doctors is an robotic experience. I never really thought about what happens after an ill person is supposedly cured of their disease. I my mind, as naive and inhumane as it sounds it was just: well your cured, so now you can move on with you life. And I guess according to Frank, that is what our modern society tells us about illness.

As a doctor, I do not want to just poke at my patients and not listen to what they have to say about their experiences with the illness, I want them to be an active part of their diagnoses. I think what Frank is getting at is that we need a more inclusive medical system when it comes to patients and doctors. This approach would be beneficial for both doctors and patients. I wished that Frank talked more about is our society moving towards a more postmodern one and if so what has been done to achieve this type of society.

The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

After watching this movie, I was in shock, angry and agitated at what I saw. And as I observed the reactions of others around me, I also saw the same or similar reactions. There were a lot of things that just stuck with me after watching this movie.
The US government justified their "any means necessary" torture policy by asserting that the captured where not prisoners of war but unlawful combatants. And since the Al-Qaeada did not abide by the rules of the Geneva convention, it was seen as okay to treat them as criminals. However, two wrongs do not make a right. Just because these terrorist groups are not following these rules,does it mean that the U.S. doesn't follow these rules because these terrorist are not? No, The United States is known to advocate for human rights and to dismiss the rules of the Geneva Convention when dealing with this alleged terrorist puts us in the same category as them. This goes along with the military keeping the prisoners wife and children in the prison to get information. That is just inhumane and tells the rest of the world that this is what we do as Americans.
Some of the things that the prisoners went through was unbearable and caused more psychological and emotional pain than physical pain. And what is even more unfortunate, is that most if not all of these prisoner had no information that would be helpful to the military. These individuals will be scared for life for no reason at all. The "curing" of mental or emotional or psychological pain is far more difficult than curing physical pain. With that in mind, I get help but be frustrated and angry at that one female soldier that kept on justifying her reasons for taking those humiliating pictures. I almost felt like she did not regret taking those pictures expect that she served some time.

What also bothered me was the fact that the lower-ranking officers were punished, but the high-ranking officials like General Miller and Secretary of State Rumsfield were not. The lower-ranking officers were pretty much used as scapegoats for Abu Ghraib and I believe that in order to show that this kind of despicable behavior should not and will not be allowed those high-ranking officers should be held accountable and punished. They were the ones who were the mastermind of this whole operation, not the low-ranking officers who got punished for what they were told to do.
Many would argue that they would never inflict such inhumane torture to prisoners if they were told to do so by a high-ranking official, but can we really say what we would do in a situation such as that of Abu Ghraib? Can we say that we will not act in the same way as the prison guards did? Well, when we are angry, afraid, and feel threatened do we do? I am by no means justifying what was done, I am just contemplating what would have made this soldiers go along with everything.
The question that still remains to be answered: should pain or torture be used to for social or political ends?

I guess my answer to this question is it depends on the situation. And as easy as it is to answer this question in typing the same is not true in reality. If we think about, our society as well as many others use pain (emotional, psychological, physical, mental, etc) as way to keep order and peace. Is it the type of pain used to torture someone that makes the difference in whether this torture should be allowed or not? If so, how would one categorize capital punishment???? Is is a form of torture? If so should it be allowed?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation

I want to start off by saying this graphic representation of the 9/11 commissioners report was excellent in that it was a short and to the point in covering the major findings of the commission and explaining them to the average person. It has an appeal that reading a lengthy text does not have but yet it is quite informative.

After reading this book, I found out the inner details of incidents related to 9/11 that I was not aware of before. The happenings of 9/11 could have been prevented if our government and its agencies took serious and extended action in deterring Osama Bin Ladin and his terrorist regime. What really bothered me is the fact that there was no sharing of crucial information between the FBI and the Justice Department that could have prevented 9/11 altogether or lessened the colossal effects of it. These officials who participated in the withholding of information did not have the American people's safety from pain and suffering as a priority. From Bin Ladin's public declaration of his intent to destroy American soldiers as well as civilians, the 1993 basement bombing of the WTC, the USS ship bombing and countless other incidents that occurred before 9/11, our government should have had ample motivation or proof to take action and improve the nation's counter-terrorism plan.

What is so sad and shameful, is that once 9/11 occurred everything changed- new policies to better protect American citizens and communication between the FBI and Justice Dept happened. Unfortunately, the happenings of 9/11 goes to prove the fact that we are more affected by pain that directly affects us as oppose to the "far-away" pain. It took mass destruction and pain in our land to make it very clear how important homeland security is. Pain that is near and dear has this great power to move us to action.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind

After watching this movie, I asked my self the seemingly simple question: If I could erase memories that caused pain,would I do it? Honestly after watching the movie, I can't say I would. If your were to ask me this question before I watched this movie, I would have an infinitely long list of memories of pain that I would love to erase. I have come to the realization why the memories of pain are so important. Those memories of pain no matter how painful they are teach us a lesson, makes us stronger, and makes us wiser. The memories of pain provides us with the ability to judge what is pleasurable. Without darkness you are unable to appreciate light the same goes with pain and pleasure, without pain you are unable to appreciate pleasure. Reliving or reprogramming our experiences and thus our memory may not work as the movie clearly shows us- customers would come in and erase a memory many times but somehow,someway it always seem to happen the same way.

Susan Sontag's: Regarding the Pain of Others

I really enjoyed reading this book. Sontag explores how images of war affect people. Do these images inspire us to take action in stopping war or not? In the beginning of her book, Sontag praises the power of photos/images in saying that they are objective and have a point of view. Later on, she describes incidents where photographers have staged photographs so that they have a certain look and affect. To often than not I am moved by the images of war or other atrocities but after reading Sontag's book, I have become more critical of photographs of war. Photographs are very powerful tools used to show the atrocities of war but at the same time they can also be powerful weapons if they they are staged. At one point Sontag asserts that altering images and staging them for the camera seems to be decreasing but i feel as though the opposite is true.The power that a photograph holds is that it does not have to be taken by a well-trained photographer and can still be credible or in light of the previous, even more credible.

Something else I found interesting was how viewing images of war changed depending if the war was something that was near or far. Those who are viewing images of war that are far away and not affecting them are prone to "sympathize' by looking at the image and feeling a sense of sorrow and then moving on if you will. However, when the war or atrocity is happening at home, they are more prone to have a stronger reaction than just acknowlegement. And sometimes may find it hard to look at these images. I belive it is human nature to have a stronger reaction to things that have a possibility of affecting us as oppose to things that do not have that possibility. So when viewing images of war in far away places one can sympathize with the suffering or just be amazed/intrigued by the carnage(aided by the constant bombardment of the images war,crime, and carnage).

The only criticism I have for Sontag is that she does not include any of the photographs she uses as examples and I feel as though it would have definitely helped to have them so that we can see the connections she is making.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pain: The Science of Suffering

I was fascinated by how comprehensive the concept of pain is. The first couple of chapters really didn't interest me but the others that followed really sparked interest. But the one thing I found missing that I really wanted Wall to touch on more was emotional or mental pain and how that affects our perception of physical pain. We all experience pain but according to Wall, our pereception and intesensity of pain differs by many factors that are not genetic or physical if you will. Wall talks about this in postoperative pain and how medical personell need to realize that there is no such a thing as "standard pain" and must treat each patient indivually when it comes to pain. The problem with that is how exactly will medical facilities and the people that work for them apply this new way of thinking about pain. Another thing that reall caught my attention in his book is how animals below humans react to pain and the reasearch conducted. This topic should be explored more.Overall, I enjoyed the this book.