Quote of the week

My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?

Nathaniel P.Morris
Scientific American
5 February 2019

On Brazil

Meanwhile, by refusing to engage in the traditional do ut des of Brazil’s pork barrel politics, and purging the government of its most blatantly compromised ministers, Dilma was antagonising forces in Congress on which her majority in the legislature depended, for whom corruption was a condition of existence. After close-grained analysis of the fractions of capital, Singer situates these tensions in a striking overview of the longue durée of the party structure in Brazil, from the postwar period to the present… Singer dubs this last ‘the party of the interior’, an amoeba-like force with no distinct ideological identity, slithering in whichever direction temporary power and emoluments, democratic or undemocratic, lay. Twenty years later, after the military stepped down, this trio essentially reappeared in the shape of the PSDB, the PT and PMDB. Neither of the first two could govern without the parasitic assistance of the third, with its wide-flung capillary network of local office-holders and nearly continuous control of the powerful presidency of the Senate. Any hint of republicanism was anathema to it.

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