Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 20th 2018 Contents A18
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
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Appreciating the weight of the new mantle
on her shoulders and aware of the reality
before her, our new President didn’t deliver
an abstract judgement, she demonstrated
that she had the capacity to identify with
those she now stands before as Head of
With the Health Minister seated just behind
her, President Weekes had no problem
telling us that she too was frustrated by the
ailing public healthcare system.
With the Prime Minister and National
Security Minister just a few feet away, she
acknowledged that she too had been a victim
of theft and was pained by the all too many
cases of domestic abuse, violence and crime
that now seem to define us.
As her speech flowed, she seemed bent on
conveying the message that “comprehending
the state of the State” was more important to
her than perhaps playing peacock.
While it’s pleasant to some and patronising
to others to focus on gender, President
Weekes has the potential to change the
Over the next few days, everything our
new President says will be dissected and
analysed, including her “three wishes”—
finding a way to make a positive difference,
communicating responsibly and being more
mindful in our language.
She’ll also go from being a notoriously
private judge to being in the spotlight.
And to be honest that is, in fact, fair. This
newspaper believes that we need to know
who our leaders are—not just who they claim
to be through words on paper. Speeches can
be beautiful but actions and expressions are
always more telling.
From her first word to the media,
President Weekes made the effort to
demonstrate that she was unconventional.
Presidencies, we’ve learned in this country,
aren’t just about pageantry, cocktail parties
and rubber stamps, they wield power.
Like others, we can choose to be negative,
pessimistic and cynical about President
Weekes and the inauguration speech. We
can say neither her gender nor her grit will
make a difference to anything tangible in this
Or we can choose to be hopeful that her
conviction and her spirit will inspire all of
us, reminding us that we can and must make
T&T a better place.
Grounded in reality
body. People cope with stress
through social means, by seek-
ing, giving affection and touching
What is the power of touch?
Why does it make us feel so good?
Loving touch releases powerful
hormones from our glands into
the blood stream and into our
Among the most influential are
endorphins, the body’s natural
pain killers, also responsible for
the “high” that athletes get at the
peak of their powers.
Touch raises the level of seroto-
nin, relieving depression. Touch
counteracts the release of stress
hormones like cortisol. Touch
switches on growth hormone
and makes children grow. And it
provokes the release of the love
hormone, oxytocin. Touch then
is not only an expression of love,
it also stimulates feelings of love.
Absence of love results in phys-
ical and emotional illness. In
growing and developing humans
ie children, it results in failure to
grow, they become malnourished
(“marasmie”), as well as affecting
them socially and linguistically
(“someone put maljo on them”).
In adults it may do the oppo-
site, make people overweight. It
certainly makes us anxious and
Wonder what per cent of the
population is on chronic alcohol,
anti-anxiety tablets and anti-de-
weight and regressing socially,
The term was introduced
by Dr René Spitz through his
work, some of which can be
seen at: https://www.youtube.
He arrived at this conclusion
whilst defining disorders in in-
fants who were institutionalised
for long periods and deprived of
The notion was later expanded
to refer more generally to severe
and lasting maternal deprivation,
whether in hospital or at home.
Children with hospitalism suf-
fer because their mother, or a
substitute mother, is not around
to care for them. Care refers not
only to nutrition but to affection.
Lack of physical and emotional
care results in stress.
This happens to everyone,
adults as well as children, and
perhaps explains much of the un-
happiness and anger in T&T these
rolonged severe stress
or toxic stress, such as
not having your mother
around to hug you and
feed you for months or having
to spend three and four hours a
day in traffic for years or having
to live in fear, night after night,
in your neighbourhood, results
in illness. Toxic stress raises the
level of stress hormones in the
ospitalism is a term one
rarely hears about nowa-
days although it seems to be
making a comeback at the
Children’s Hospital at Mount Hope
where, at least in the Paediatric In-
tensive Unit, parents are not allowed
to be with their dying children.
Hospitalism differs from hospitali-
sation. Hospitalisation is the tempo-
rary confinement of a seriously ill
person in a hospital. Good hospital
practice prevents hospitalism.
Poor hospital practice leads to
more illness whether the patient is
an adult or child.
Part of good hospital practice is in-
sisting that close physical and emo-
tional contact between patient and
family and friends be maintained,
even at the expense of medical and
nursing procedures, including emer-
People simply do better in hospi-
tal when their loved ones are pres-
Hospitalism was a paediatric di-
agnosis we used up to the 1970s, to
describe infants who wasted away
while in hospital because of lack of
contact with their mothers.
Because of modern methods of
caring for hospitalised children, it
is rarely seen now and the term has
been somewhat forgotten.
I remember first being told about
it by Dr George Graham, Professor
of Nutrition at Johns Hopkins School
of Public Health and Head of the Nu-
trition Research Institute in Lima,
Peru, making the point that these
children wasted away, both men-
tally and physically, despite very ad-
It seemed strange at the time to be
told that a child could fail to put on
weight despite getting enough food.
The fact that it was described
by the Professor of Nutrition and
the evidence there, in front of our
eyes, a child in our hospital, well
fed by the nurses but failing to gain
Dr David Bratt
The power of touch
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