From the op-eds of the Financial Times, Edward Luce smartly summed up the significance of the Euro fiasco to the Obama administration: “if Europe fails to stave off collapse, Mr Obama’s re-election prospects will be downgraded to junk”.
But why is Europe so significant to the USA? The euro…
One of the most famous and deadly terrorist attacks on the western world, the fall of the Twin Towers has been viewed as one of the most important and widely discussed event since the turn of the millennium.
The consequences of the attacks have been far reaching and serious. It was the trigger of the United States’ declaration of war against the Islamist extremist group Al Qaeda in the Middle East. That war has also been the catalyst for the July 2005 London Underground bombings as well as the November 2003 Istanbul attacks. Indeed, the world has suffered as a result of the 9/11 attacks. The chain of events lead all the way to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda earlier in the year, in May, with the US and the UK being the main front against the still ongoing war against the terrorist group.
There have of course, been many conspiracy theories about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, that they were in fact planned by the US Government and had been deliberately planned to justify war against the Middle East, where there a rich abundance of crude oil. Some also believe that the US Government had knowledge of these attacks but deliberately failed to take action and prevent the disaster.
And it was some disaster, on the last count, over 2,900 people died as 4 United Airplanes were hijacked by Al Qaeda terrorists. The first of which crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at approximately 8:44 in the morning, and the North Tower burning for over 100 minutes before collapsing at approximately 10:28. The second airplane crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03, burning for nearly an hour before collapsing at 9:59. The third airplane hit the Pentagon at 9:37, burning a portion of the complex. Each attack brought severe loss of life, not least the civilians aboard each of the airplanes, and while the 4th airplane brought no further attacks, it crashed and all passengers were killed.
The immediate aftermath on the US was profound. The US Economy went into shutdown, with the stock exchange closing for 6 days, with the estimated cost set at $3.3 trillion, with an economic loss of $105 billion. The world mourned as New York began to recover from the massive attacks, as deaths were not limited to Americans alone. To date, people from 115 countries died at from the attacks at the, World Trade Center, and this includes the passengers that were killed on the hijacked airplanes.
Of course, the most obvious damage is all too clear to see when one looks at the World Trade Center. Rebuilding will take many years, and while the US continues its war against terrorism, people will look back and see that this event was the cause of it all as well as the start of the chain of events that has led to more terrorism and more deaths.
In a blend of social and psychological concepts, Daniel Siegel explores Mindsight, a concept created by the author which uses elements from psychology and is bought into real life with case studies that he has experienced.
In Part I, Daniel Siegel explains the path to mental well being, called “Mindsight Illuminated”. Here, he lays out the basis of well being, including diagrams showing the Triangle of Well Being and also uses accessible representations of the brain, for example, using the hand to represent the cortex.
In Part II, the author delves deeper into the concept, with “Mindsight in Action”. This chapter is based almost entirely on case studies, and the cases themselves give greater depth to the concept. For example, one patient had not used half of his brain for nearly all his life, but was able to awaken that half through the practice of Mindsight. Daniel Siegel gives many practices and techniques, using a wide range of influences, from Buddhist preachings of meditation to “Body scans’, which aim to locate and neutralise various points of stress in the body.
The problem with many scientific books is that people generally avoid them as they do not usually relate to them, but Daniel Siegel has created a concept that can be used from the most learned academic to the humble cleaner at a shopping centre. Mindsight draws from different examples to create a read that can be read by any adult.
As always, the core of scientific books depend on the educational value that it gives, and Mindsight does not disappoint. Reflecting both inwards and outwards is key to the concept conveyed in the book, and while it will take time to get a grip on these, they ultimately enlighten readers. Siegel fully explains new terms in great depth and the reader should ultimately be able to grasp advanced psychological concepts that relate to the medical field and to everyday life.
Unsurprisingly, the main themes in ‘Mindsight’ are based on empathy, trauma and recovery. Daniel Siegel explains the emotional sides of the brain and how they are affected through physical events, such as car crashes to mental shutdowns of emotions and explains how this trauma affects their lives from a bystander’s point of view. Other themes include love, patience, kindness and family conflicts, which are many of causes of mental trauma in the case studies throughout the book.
To conclude, Mindsight is a highly approchable book with everyday concept at its core with a complex and highly specialist wrapping. While psychology will not be for everyone, everyone can read this, as is has the ability to change mindsets and perspectives on the brain and indeed people’s lives.
The double blow of the bombing in Oslo, followed by the horrific massacre of the youth camp island in Utoeya, has left the Norwegian society shattered. The death toll for the shootings may have been lowered from 93 to 76, but this not take away the fact that this deed was an unspeakable act of violence and malice, particularly as the majority of the victims were aged between 14 and 18 years old, with bright futures cut short.
Normally a peaceful and quiet country who shuns the limelight, Norway suddenly has the eyes of the world upon them as the country grieves for the victims of the double attack and tries to recover from such a harsh blow to their society and to their youth system. The attacks happened within hours of each other, suggesting that this has been planned for quite some time.
The Oslo bombing damaged many key social structures, including government buildings, energy and oil department centers, but also left at least 7 dead, with dozens missing. Such wreckage and destruction had not been seen in Norway since the Second World War and clearly, these attacks have clearly targeted the political structure of Norway, with both attacks having some relation to the governing Labour Party in Norway,who take a liberal and fairly neutral left wing view towards their society, and it is not surprising that it was a right wing extremist who claimed to have carried out the attacks.
Meanwhile, the attack on Utoeya was perhaps even more indiscriminate than the bombings with the gunman reportedly killing teenagers who were trying to escape the island. Furthermore, the fact that he did not shoot himself after attacks, a common outcome after massacres, suggests that he did not feel any remorse for these attacks. Anders Behring Breivik, the man who has claimed responsibility is quoted to have said that the attacks were indeed “atrocious” but “necessary”, and we can see his intentions and he genuinely believed that committing these crimes was the right thing to do.
So what now for Norway? Well the world must give full praise to the Norwegian society for staying strong, and for the government for staying to their beliefs in this time of crisis. Many Norwegian citizens have been flooding to Oslo, and Utoeya to pay tribute to the victims, and this will only strengthen the bond between communities. It is in times of trouble where communities must unite, and this is exactly what has happened in Norway, rather than destroying it as the attacks were intended do to. As a country and society, Norway will recover quickly but for the all the families who have lost loved ones, only the passage of time will gradually ease their suffering.
I want to share an event that happened to me nearly 12 months ago. I am a nut allergy sufferer, and this was and has since been my closest death experience of my life. This happened in Hong Kong where me and my Mum stayed there for a few days in the middle of our usual holiday to Singapore. It’s not something I am likely to forget.
We had just entered a Cafe, and I ordered spaghetti with frankfurters while my mum ordered some french toast. As per normal, my mother asked about the ingredients in the spaghetti, but she did not ask about the toast, and this is where the mistake was made. At first, I hadn’t planned on eating the toast anyway, but I was curious as it looked rather appetising. My Mum gave me a small piece and I bit into it.
As soon as I bit into it, I knew something was off, and right on cue, my Mum then told me she realised it was peanut butter. The reason why she did not realise this is that when she first ate it is, one section was covered in peanut butter, and the rest was not, and rather conveniently, she gave me the only section where there was peanut butter. Normally, I can smell peanut butter from a mile away, but for some reason, I too did not pick it up. Once my mother had told me, she looked panicky and nervous. I could scarcely believe that having avoided any kind of nuts for nearly 8 years, more than half my life, I would be foiled here during what was supposed to be my holidays. I began to feel the throat tighten slightly and my lips started to swell, so my Mum hurriedly paid the cafe and we left.
I felt that money hardly mattered at a time like this, when my life was starting to go into the balance. However at this point, there was nothing serious. My limbs were still working, my eyesight was its normal sharp self, and I felt fine, with the exceptions of the swollen lips and the tickling throat. These were only mild reactions, and as we entered the hotel room, I felt them getting no worse, but no better, so we waited it out.
Ten minutes passed, nothing changed.
Twenty minutes passed, I started reading but still they were still lingering.
After nearly thirty minutes, I decided to take to take the epipen injection because I didn’t fancy having those swollen lips for much longer. At this point, I should explain that the epipen injection should only really be used when the sufferer is having an anaphylactic shock, but nothing of that sort had happened, so while I wasn’t healthy at this point, I was relatively safe.
I remembered the last time I took the epipen, so long ago, and I remembered the pain of the injection. I braced myself but then I remembered I was much older, and my pain tolerance levels were now much higher. I emerged feeling ‘fine’, but a few seconds later I started feeling tight in the chest. I reached for the accuhaler, but my mum told me to go into the bathroom instead.
What happened next is something I cannot really describe. My world came crashing down on me as I started puking everything. Normal vomiting is unpleasant enough, but couple that with the lethal anaphylactic shock, and the pain is unimaginable to those who have not experienced it. My entire face was swelling up, from my eyes to down to the throat. The mild reactions I had had few minutes earlier had transformed into a full blown anaphylactic shock. I immediately started to feel weaker, and as it continued, it got worse. My eyes had started puffing up even more. They started tearing over and I began to struggle to speak even basic sentences.
This happened over a 10-15 minute period, but it felt like it would go on for eternity. My face had stopped swelling up, but they were still there, the reactions were continuing and I felt weaker than an african child starving in droughts. I could only speak one or two words at a time and I was struggling for air. My mum had already called the ambulance but I wondered if they were going to make it in time.
I collapsed. I couldn’t even stand. I knew that I had to stay conscious, as passing into a coma in that state is potentially lethal. I managed to drag myself up to my bed, but my head was pounding, I could barely breathe and I was so tired and so weak. I had no idea how long I was going to last.
The paramedics arrived a couple of minutes later, and while I felt some relief, I was feeling even weaker. As they hurriedly put me in a wheel chair and towed me down to the ambulance, I started vomiting again. There wasn’t much, just an indomitable feeling of pain. I was starting to pass out, and I struggled to stay awake. I think I did briefly, but I managed to snap out of it. They gave me an oxygen mask, but I think I was still starved of oxygen, and there were passing moments where I couldn’t even see. I opened my eyes, wide as they could go, but the world was black. For the first time, I felt truly frightened, as I thought, ‘Is this it? Is this the end?’
I regained my senses a short time after, and I felt relieved in that sense. I knew at that point I was at least going to survive for the time being. However, my life was still in the balance and once I arrived at the hospital, they took me straight to the A & E. I was taken into the operating theater where the doctors inserted a drip into the arteries in my hand. The symptoms of the allergic reaction had finally stopped, and now I just felt tired and weak.
Once they were done, they bought me to a ward and left me there to rest. They were going to admit me overnight, but my mum refused so after a few hours rest, we left the hospital, picked up a cab and went back to the hotel. I felt slightly giddy, weak, but ultimately tired and slightly relieved.
It was far from my intentions to die in Hong Kong, and while I almost did, it has allowed me to write about this, and it has given me this opportunity to tell people what the experience was like. Encounters with death can change people, and it has changed me. I have become more reflective since that event, and it has also reaffirmed my career choice. However, I was lucky, you may not be so lucky if this happens to you.