Posts Tagged David Brooks

Obesity, Cancer And Other Health Issues May Correlate With Childhood Traumas

David Brooks wrote a very upsetting column last week suggesting that if you had as a child many of 10 pretty common traumas, then you may be doomed for life to suffer bad stuff, including health and weight issues. Traumas like being abused, having divorced parents, or family members who’d been incarcerated or declared mentally ill. Coincidentally I saw a movie about Freud and Jung, in which the former just wanted to identify the source of the problems, while Jung also wanted to help heal or cure the problem. Hard for me to understand why Dr. Freud wouldn’t want to heal the patients as well. Here are some excerpts from the Brooks article.

They gave the 17000 adults interviewed what came to be known as ACE scores, depending on how many of the 10 experiences they had endured. The link between childhood trauma and adult outcomes was striking. People with an ACE score of 4 were seven times more likely to be alcoholics as adults than people with an ACE score of 0. They were six times more likely to have had sex before age 15, twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer, four times as likely to suffer emphysema. People with an ACE score above 6 were 30 times more likely to have attempted suicide.

Later research suggested that only 3 percent of students with an ACE score of 0 had learning or behavioral problems in school. Among students with an ACE score of 4 or higher, 51 percent had those problems.

Schools are now casting about, trying to find psychological programs that will help students work on resilience, equanimity and self-control. Some schools give two sets of grades—one for academic work and one for deportment.

And it’s not just schools that are veering deeper into the psychological realms. Health care systems are going the same way, tracing obesity and self-destructive habits back to social breakdown and stress.

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What Are Your Goals In Sports?

David Brooks wrote a column in today’s New York Times about the moral differences between professional sport and religious teachings. The excerpt below about why we watch sports and why professionals play sports and what they are thinking may not be totally accurate, but it is worth sharing to readers of this site. I have written often, and said just this week on the tennis court, that “it’s only a game.” Yes I want to win, but striving to win the point, experiencing the challenge, the uncertainty, the satisfaction of a skillful shot, the respect of my fellows and the admiration for an opponent’s winner are all part of why I play sports. What about you? What are your goals beyond victory, domination and maybe local fame?

The moral universe of modern sport is oriented around victory and supremacy. The sports hero tries to perform great deeds in order to win glory and fame. It doesn’t really matter whether he has good intentions. His job is to beat his opponents and avoid the oblivion that goes with defeat.

The modern sports hero is competitive and ambitious. (Let’s say he’s a man, though these traits apply to female athletes as well). He is theatrical. He puts himself on display.

He is assertive, proud and intimidating. He makes himself the center of attention when the game is on the line. His identity is built around his prowess. His achievement is measured by how much he can elicit the admiration of other people — the roar of the crowd and the respect of ESPN.

His primary virtue is courage — the ability to withstand pain, remain calm under pressure and rise from nowhere to topple the greats.

This is what we go to sporting events to see. This sporting ethos pervades modern life and shapes how we think about business, academic and political competition.

But there’s no use denying — though many do deny it — that this ethos violates the religious ethos on many levels. The religious ethos is about redemption, self-abnegation and surrender to God.

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How To Contol Your Life…And Your Death

I read two articles recently having nothing to do with abs that made me think of how to fit crunches and exercise into a busy life…and all of us have busy lives.

David Brooks wrote a piece for the New York Times describing two ways to live a life: as a Well-Planned project and as a more fluid exploration, the Summoned Life, that starts with the particular circumstances one faces.

“Once you have come up with an overall purpose,” he continues, “a person following a Well-Planned life has to make decisions about allocating his time, energy and talent. When he is done, life comes to appear as a well-designed project, carefully conceived in the beginning, reviewed and adjusted along the way and brought toward a well-rounded fruition.

“The person leading the Summoned Life starts with a very concrete situation: I’m living in a specific year in a specific place facing specific problems and needs. At this moment in my life, I am confronted with specific job opportunities and specific options. The important questions are: What are these circumstances summoning me to do? What is needed in this place? What is the most useful social role before me?”

When I say I want to crunch abs at least twice a week, I am often disappointed at failing to reach this goal. I visit kids and friends, see a movie, dine out, travel. I don’t hit my target. Other people do make and exceed those goals. I saw the gym rats who said they were pumping iron four times a week. I was never ever one of them. I made different life choices involving others I have relationships and obligations with. I am also playing tennis five to 14 hours a week. The muscle builders are probably not doing that also. But I want to have the muscles too.

I’d be a lot happier, I am concluding if I could just adopt the more relaxed attitude of accepting my circumstances and the time-limited opportunities in my life to: carry out survival functions, work for money and causes, write for this site, spend time with loved ones, play tennis for fun and cardio, handle car and house repairs, and also squeeze in some crunches. I always think I can do it watching TV, but usually I am too tired to do much more than eat a snack and push the remote.

Any suggestions? I actually have friends who don’t watch TV, hardly use a computer. They have time to exercise every day an hour or two and also get up with the birds and the sun. I have to stop wanting it all and learn to accept my limits. But it’s almost impossible. Too greedy for a closer step toward perfection. Too interested in tennis over gym exercise. But when I was younger and working full steam, I barely spent an hour a week some years doing any kind of physical activity

The second article by Dr. David Katz, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, talks about “the three leading causes of death that we have control of: tobacco use, poor dietary pattern and limited physical activity. Read the rest of this entry »

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