“Is Marijuana as Safe as We Think?” AND More on Best 5 Wednesday Reads

Hello and welcome to another edition of Best 5 Reads. Lets begin!

1) Is Marijuana as Safe as We Think?

Permitting pot is one thing; promoting its use is another.

2) Run, swim, cook: the new prescription for happiness

As three new books show, keeping active can be great for mental health. But government has a role to play as well.

3) Loneliness is a serious public-health problem

The lonely are not just sadder; they are unhealthier and die younger. What can be done?

4) It is not all in your head. Sometimes, it’s in your legs

Everything we sense in our external and internal worlds has a distinct subjective quality. A blasting outburst of rage feels different than a lover’s tender kiss on the cheek. Even routine acts such as reading a book or trying to recall a childhood friend’s name feel remarkably different. These and countless other feelings fill the wavelengths of our consciousness and drive our daily pursuits, helping us to navigate the world. We seek things that make us feel delight and enjoyment, and steer clear of things that cause stress or suffering, unless we expect pleasure to follow the pain. It is puzzling, however, how these external and internal pieces of information are organised into inner, subjective states.

5) When Psychological Pain Becomes Physical

Somatization is the transformation or conversion of uncomfortable feelings into more tolerable physical symptoms. At its most dramatic, this may involve loss of motor function in a particular group of muscles. The patient could, for example, present with paralysis of a limb or even paralysis of an entire side of the body (hemiplegia). In some cases, somatization might present as sensory loss, particularly if the sensory loss is independent of a motor loss or involves one of the special senses, most often the sense of sight. In other cases, the psychic pain is converted into an aberrant pattern of motor activity such as a tic or seizure.

Psychogenic seizures (seizures with a psychological origin) are sometimes called ‘pseudoseizures’ to distinguish them from seizures with a physical basis such as epilepsy, brain injury, or a brain tumour. Pseudoseizures can appear very similar to organic seizures. One way of telling them apart is by taking a blood sample 10-20 minutes after the event and assaying the level of the hormone prolactin, which is raised after an organic seizure but not a pseudoseizure. Another way, more reliable but also more invasive, is video telemetry, which involves monitoring the patient over several days with a video camera and an electroencephalogram to record electrical activity across the skull.

Thank you and see you tomorrow for more articles!

Best Regards,

Vikram


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