The Doctor's Consultation:
Grief, loss and psychological trauma
by Dr. Iain Corness
We have all experienced some psychological trauma, loss or
grief. Just as death is the end result of living, we will meet many traumatic
experiences in our lives. Every day we hear about atrocities, suicide
bombings, genocide, innocent children caught up in sectarian violence - it all
seems endless. And we watch graphic TV footage of people left to grieve.
However, this is not a new phenomenon. Mankind has been
inflicting psychological trauma on itself for countless thousands of years. A
brief perusal of world history will soon reveal the war-like nature of mankind
and the countless millions who have perished in these conflicts. And all those
who died left mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, family and friends to
grieve over their losses. The only difference between today’s horrors and
the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades or World Wars I and II is the fact that
the grief was not shown all over the world via the electronic media.
Grief is the outcome of loss, but that loss does not need
to be just from unexpected trauma. Grief from loss can also be experienced by
children of divorcing parents, adults whose elderly parents have died or
parents whose children have died after long illnesses. Even losing a job or a
girlfriend/boyfriend can produce the emotion we call grief.
The ways we handle grief are almost as many as the causes
of grief, but drug and alcohol abuse and suicide threats rank highly as
manifestations of poor adaptation to a new situation that is causing the loss
Since grief is an emotion we all have had, in one way or
another, it is one of life’s ‘normal’ emotional states. The usual
expressions of ‘normal’ grief includes tears, poor sleep and a decreased
appetite. The stages of grieving include a numbness that lasts between a few
hours to several days, followed by ‘pining’ where the person swings
between separation distress and anxiety.
These are then followed by a period of disorganization and
despair, where the memory of the event or person is in the forefront of
consciousness. This results in the continuing personal questioning of “What
if...?” and “Why?” The grieving person feels that the person being
grieved over is still around and they will ‘see’ the person while out in
public. Finally there is a phase of reorganization and integration of the loss
into the ‘normal’ thoughts of the individual.
While these phases can take varying times, there will be
set-backs, such as birthdays and anniversaries like Xmas and New Year, to push
the person back into the grieving process. However, this is all very normal.
Grief, like many of our emotions, only becomes
‘abnormal’ when it results in a long period of lack of coping with the
situation that has produced the grief. It is normal for a mother to grieve for
a lost child, but abnormal for that person to be unable to consider having
further off-spring, because of that one disaster. It is normal for a teenager
to feel that they will never love again after a broken romance. It is only
abnormal when they do not allow themselves to become involved again.
To allow the grief cycle to go forwards, sometimes it is
necessary for counselling, but for most people just having supportive,
non-judgmental family and friends is one of the most important factors.
Learning to let go of the past is important too. Constantly
going over the past robs you of the present and stops your progress into the
I lent a lady over 2 million baht and we are now married (3 years). Do I
want it back? Of course not, otherwise we would have to sell the house,
pickup, 6 dogs, 5 cows, 1 pig, and chickens of course, and 9 rai of land.
As you may realize, I’m not talking about Pattaya - so inform your
readers that there are many lovely places and ladies in the northeast
where I live.
Ken (ex-Pattaya resident)
Dear ex-Pattaya resident Ken,
Thank you for the wonderful vote of confidence in the north-eastern
ladies, Petal. It is always pleasant to hear of an ex-pat who is not
complaining. There is only one thing that worries me slightly with your
idyllic situation that you outlined in your letter - you mention “house,
pickup, 6 dogs, 5 cows, 1 pig, and chickens and 9 rai of land”, but
where is the buffalo? For two million you should have been able to get a
buffalo plus 12 months veterinary maintenance thrown in free after that
sort of big spend! Enjoy Isaan, Ken. You sound like a very nice chap, and
when you want to lend another two million to a lady, Hillary is always
waiting! I do have another slight worry, Ken. It has been reported to me
that 99 percent of the ladies in Pattaya came from Isaan. How do the
Pattaya lads find one like yours that is still left up there?
Like “Young & Handsome” (October 16), I too see some “ugly”
expats here, but I am not referring to their looks. I became a regular
visitor to Chiang Mai since 2001 after I met someone special here. Coming
here monthly for a week or two, I do drive around. Besides the terrible
driving manners of the locals, there are a number of ‘farangs’ who are
equally guilty. Many a time I come across these expats who walk in the
middle of a road or lane with no regards to the on-coming cars or the cars
behind them, and taking their time; or crossing a road with their Thai
lover in tow while engaging in a fight or conversation, not bothering
about the traffic; riding their bikes at snail speed and making turns or
overtaking without giving proper signals. Do they behave like this back in
their own cities where there are laws or they simply behave like this
because they think they are the superior group of people in this Asian
city? Please don’t advise me to ‘run’ them down as I would like to,
if it’s legal.
I honestly think these people did behave like this in their own cities. Do
you notice that many of them possess a limp (one that Vitamin V does not
fix) or a short leg, or similar results of pedestrian accidents in their
own countries, where people travel too fast to miss them. After they
recover, they get a lump sum (should that be ‘limp’ sum, I wonder)
payout and they come here to eke out their remaining days. I don’t
believe the day-dreaming is solely the province of the farangs either, as
many, many Thais are just as hopeless on the road (on foot, on a bike or
in a car). Don’t run them down, it gets very messy, and the nice
policeman won’t like you anymore and your visa to come here could be
cancelled, and you wouldn’t want that, would you Petal?
Sandy and Jules of ‘Bona Trips’ have suggested that I troll along and
make a full-frontal approach with your chocs and bubbly. Only one problem,
where’s Soi Hillary?
There is a Hillary Bar in Bangkok (no relationship to me I assure you),
but I do not know of a Soi Hillary either, though perhaps I should check
the signpost at the end of my street. However, I am perfectly aware that
even if I laid on limousine transport to my front door, your full-frontal
approach would be full of the usual wee and wind that you have been guilty
of for more than two years now. Why don’t you share the choccies and
champers with Sandy and Jules, my reneging little Petal? You and I both
know that you do not deliver on your promises.
I parked my car in the main street and when I came back I found a
motorcycle had fallen over and was leaning on my car, scratching the back
of it. I waited to see if the owner would come up, but after half an hour
I left. I took the number plate of the motorcycle. Do you think I could
get any compensation for this, or should I just pay it myself and forget
it? The painting shop said they thought it would cost maybe 2000 baht.
What do you think?
Oh dear, my Petal, you must be new round here. You do not have a
snowball’s hope in hell of doing anything right now. My simple answer is
to pay your paint shop and chalk it down to experience. You will be
rewarded in the next life. If you are very lucky. In the meantime it’s
2,000 baht. And give the motorcycle rider his number plate back!
Camera Class: New or second-hand?
by Harry Flashman
When looking for a new camera, should you take the risk and
get a second hand one? I always say to go for second hand. My Scottish heritage
comes to the fore when buying anything, so if you can save 50 percent of the
price of a new one, and get the same performance, it’s a no-brainer as far as
I am concerned. However, there are a few items to consider before plunging into
your wallet and forking out for a camera.
my professional photographer days, I have bought many expensive cameras,
including Hasselblads, Nikons, Canons and Cambos. The ‘Blads alone were worth
several hundreds of thousands of baht (one lens alone was worth over 30,000
baht), but all of them were second hand! A few years back I also had to buy some
cameras here (after a robbery - are yours insured?) and they too were second
hand. I follow my own advice!
Like buying anything, the first problem is not ascertaining
the condition, it is just making sure that you do not need asbestos gloves to
handle the merchandise. In other words, make sure it isn’t “hot”. (In
particular, one of my stolen cameras!)
If you are buying from a recognised camera shop then you are
probably OK, but from Shady Sam’s it is ‘caveat emptor’ - let the buyer
beware. If you are buying from a private owner, then look for some proof of
ownership - a receipt from their initial purchase, or at worst, some insurance
documentation. Most robbers don’t bother insuring the loot!
Now let’s go through what you have to do to make sure you
have bought a good one - and we’ll deal with the camera body first. Just like
looking at a second hand car, how many bumps and scrapes are there on the case?
Turn it over and look at the top, front, back, sides and bottom. Look
particularly for small dents in the case. With good cameras you have to use a
lot of force to actually dent the casing, so it probably means the camera has
been dropped. You do not want a dropped camera - they are more trouble than they
are worth, no matter how cheaply it is being offered.
Note “wear” marks on the edges. Nice smooth wear areas
generally means the camera spent most of its life in a camera case. In other
words, it has had half a chance of being looked after properly. Also look at the
swivels for the camera strap. Excessive wear here also shows a camera that has
been well used.
Now open up the camera back and look inside. Wear marks on
the pressure plate on the cover means that it has had lots of film put through
it. This is not such a bad thing, but remember that everything will wear out
eventually. Look particularly at the shutter. Titanium shutters as used in
Nikons are very fragile (and expensive) and should be completely flat. Look for
corrosion around the light seal edges of the camera back and the grooves it fits
into on the body. This may be a sign of water damage. Look into the body at the
front and make sure the mirror is clean and works properly when the shutter is
Next look at the lens, dismounted from the camera. Check the
bayonet or screw fitting and hold the lens up to the light. Look for “spider
web” traces on the glass elements which may mean fungus. This does not mean
the lens is ruined - it just means it will need service soon. Now look through
the lens while closing the aperture down and make sure it closes OK.
You have only one more check to do. Run a roll of film through and check all
the shutter speeds, apertures and functions. With a private seller or
photo-shop, run a check film through before money actually changes hands. It is
a perfectly reasonable and legitimate request. With a camera shop, you should
also get a guarantee. Buy carefully and laugh all the way to the bank.
Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums
by Dr Byte, Citec Asia
Last month I outlined and reviewed what Internet connections
are available for those of us living in Thailand. There has been a lot of
interest in the series of articles, and I promise I will provide an update in
the next month’s columns. This month, however, I want to deal with some of the
many questions you have been asking and I also want to have a look at the ways
in which the Internet has changed our lives and as always, your comments and
thoughts are appreciated.
made in 1954.
An awful lot of people, spend an awful lot of time trying to
figure out how the online revolution will change our lives next month, next year
or next decade. I think we sometimes forget just how far we have already come.
It’s true the internet as we now know it is only about 10 years old but, in
that time, in the developed world at least, it has made enormous changes to our
lives at a practical level - and there’s no going back.
Many people have contributed to this list and I thank you all
for your contributions.
1. Everybody can find out information ... If you learn
how to look for it. You can Google the most obscure bits of information to your
desktop within seconds.
2. Everyone can get breaking news … Try reuters.com
or cnn.com for starters. You can also read daily newspapers from just about any
part of the globe online. Try The Paperboy for a list of papers from Afghanistan
to Zimbabwe. Don’t forget you can read the Bangkok Post, The Nation, Chiangmai
Mail all online.
3. Everyone can be an expert … While a little
knowledge can be a dangerous thing, one of the delights of the internet is to be
able to put together well informed content on everything from how to cook your
omelette to how to build a simple web site. For example I learned that vegemite
(yes my favourite spread) is also great for sick fir trees and I can confirm it
4. No one need ever get lost …. Sites such as
Whereis have revolutionised car travel for direction-challenged folk in the
developed world. Typing in a few details will instantly return a door-to-door
list of instructions complete with map. Brilliant for those of us returning home
after many years in the tropics. Shame we can’t do the same in Chiang Mai when
looking for Soi 45 and Moo 2.
5. Cheap, near-instant communication … To those who
have grown up in the era of the “@” symbol, it’s easy to take electronic
mail for granted. But the ability to flash messages around the globe with
documents, images or applications attached is revolutionary.\
6. The bank on your desktop …
Plenty of businesses have tried to harness the internet’s power to make
their services cheaper and easier to use, but it is internet banking where
the effect has been astounding. We expect to transfer funds between accounts
and to third parties, pay bills and print statements from the home or office
without going anywhere near a branch. You may miss the manager’s smile,
but that’s about it - if you’re not already banking online, you should
7. Everyone can be a publisher …
Now everyone can publish their thoughts online for next to nothing through
personal websites or, more likely these days, by joining the blogging
phenomenon. Try Blogger or Geeklog for a taste of Blog power or even to set
up your own. How you make people read your blog is a different question!
8. The world market comes to your
desktop … The internet has turned the connected world into one huge
marketplace. eBay changed the world but there are many others - Google lists
341 separate auction sites. Whatever you want to sell or buy, online auction
sites have evolved into an incredibly efficient marketplace.
9. Music … Driven initially by
the controversial Napster and other peer-to-peer systems, the internet has
revolutionized the distribution of music. Taking up the running now is
Apple’s iTunes, which sold more than 70 million songs in its first year.
The ability to grab tunes you want, then sort, store and play them however
you want will probably spell the end of the album format.
10. No one is anonymous any more …
Try a search on your best friends’ names in Google and chances are they
will be somewhere on the internet, especially if they are under 30. While
you’re at it, try a search on your own name - you may be surprised how far
your electronic tracks extend. From websites to chatrooms, most internet
users leave a trail.
Dr Byte appears in Chiangmai Mail every 2
weeks and if you have any questions or suggestions you would like to make,
you can contact me at Dr Byte, Chiangmai Mail.
Life in the Laugh Lane: You are what you eat
by Scott Jones
“You are what you eat” is a classic, health food phrase
in America to dissuade you from eating dead animals, artificial whatevers and
noxious preservatives that will kill you quicker but make your body last longer
in the grave. (Hearing “Fruit! You are nuts!” may not be easy to stomach,
Asia, the saying goes, “We eat anything with four legs except a table and
anything that flies except an airplane.” (Careful. If you complain about
cockroaches in your salad, you may be charged extra.) I don’t know whether
this sign should have read “taste” (see photo), but possibly the spelling
is correct and I’m not going to let them use mine.
I eat birds, fish and most fruits or vegetables if they look
vaguely like they’re from this planet. I don’t eat anything with more than
two feet, unless I’m being polite during a social adventure in the
hinterlands and then I’d just rather not know what I’m trying to chew.
Insects have way too many legs, soft centers and crusty parts. I’ll let them
bite me. I’m not going to bite them.
Half the fun of eating out is reading about half the stuff
you don’t order. You never know if the spelling is wrong and the food is
right or the spelling is right and the food is wrong. The names below have not
been changed to protect the innocent.
Grilled pig neck
I haven’t voluntarily eaten pig in decades and I’m not
going to start with the neck. In America, they also eat every molecule of the
pig: feet, jowls, intestines, fried cracklings (basically fat fried in fat). I
squeamishly remember a plastic bag at a 7-Eleven store containing “Pickled
Pig Lips.” When I see Porky knee deep in his poop, you won’t hear me
saying, “Mmm, I’d love to nibble on those toes, but honey, look at them
Hot and sour bladder salad
“Hot” or “salad” sounds palatable; “sour” and
“bladder” do not, especially when used together. And we must ask, “Whose
bladder?” and “Why?”
Hot and Sour Puffed Up Catfish
At this restaurant, hot and sour sauce is used to mask the
other sinister flavors. Puffed up? Naturally bloated from rotting on the shore?
Fried Friend or Shrimp Ball
Fry your friend or mine? I didn’t even know shrimp had
Friend Been Sport
This is probably safe. Fried Bean Sprout. Singular. You only
Hot and Sour Psophocarpus or Tetrogonclopus
I have no idea what these are. Meat items from a million
years ago? They weren’t big sellers back then but they’ve passed the
originals down for generations.
You decide what your tongue touches. I think I’ll have a pineapple. From a