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Drugs like ketamine and psilocybin offer patients a new perspective on their experiences with racism

Photo: Emma Miller/Unsplash

In a handful of clinics across Canada and the United States, therapists are administering ketamine to their patients to help them explore the psychological trauma left by racism. Ketamine, a psychedelic drug used in hospitals as an anesthetic and recreationally for its dissociative effects, seems to help people view their trauma through a third-person perspective, writes science journalist Emma Betuel in Future Human. In turn, they are able to extend compassion to themselves and learn to heal.

At the heart of this burgeoning field of study is the long-overdue understanding among mental health professionals that trauma due to racism is…

Understanding sympathetic dominance

A sign with the text “Racism is a pandemic”
A sign with the text “Racism is a pandemic”
Photo: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona/Unsplash

My hands trembled at the steering wheel. Going 20 miles per hour over the national speed limit in my patched-up Renault Megane (a French car, for those not familiar) and pushing it to its structural and engineering limits, I struggled to compose myself on the drive back home from the North of England.

“Too urban? I sounded too urban?” The words kept replaying over and over again in my overwrought mind. “What could that even mean?” I mumbled the question to myself, but I knew exactly what it meant.

I’ll be the first to openly admit I’m not the most…

‘What would have happened if my parents did not have an oncologist-in-training as their daughter? What happens to the Black patients?’

Photo: Stígur Már Karlsson,Heimsmyndir/Getty Images

Part one: It’s everywhere

My first prostate cancer patient was my father. He is the man who taught me to be frugal. He is parsimonious until he gets to talking, and then all you want to do is listen. His laugh is boisterous and genuine. It is pure magic when it rises from someone who otherwise seems so stern. He worked two jobs when I was very little, one as a United States Postal Service mail carrier and the other delivering papers for a now-defunct newspaper in Denver. His father left his mother and eight siblings when he was young when they lived in…

The pandemic and racism create a stressful back-to-school time

An instructor helps a student with her online school lesson at a desk separated from others by plastic barriers on September 10, 2020 in Culver City, California. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

With Covid-19 cases in Illinois on the rise, Glenbard Township High School District plans to continue remote instruction, which began on August 17, at least through mid-October. But as the weeks go by, Black teachers in the district are facing increasing anxiety about navigating in-person education in a pandemic.

Teresa Lawrence, EdD, 54, teaches English to grades 9–12 at Glenbard East High School. As an African American woman, Lawrence says she is conscious that “for many of my students, [I will] be the first Black teacher they ever have.” …

Suppressing the anger and pain can actively damage what psychology researchers call ‘psychological fortitude’

Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

I bottled up my rage and despair for the first few days after George Floyd’s death.

It wasn’t because I wasn’t full of rage and despair — I was. My brain was slowly frying. The video of Floyd’s last moments was unavoidable; my mom, who I live with, kept the news on 24/7. But I was concerned that anything I could say out loud had already been said. There were so many activists, writers, and thought leaders speaking out about being Black in America. I wasn’t sure how to add to the conversation.

Finally, at my teletherapy session the Tuesday…

Three experts discuss why health care needs a paradigm shift — and how to get there

A health care worker gives a Covid test to a patient in the Covid-19 Unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, July 2, 2020. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP/Getty Images

Covid-19 has illuminated the stark racial inequities that exist in the United States’ health care system. The risk of dying from the novel coronavirus is up to nine and eight times higher for young Black and Latinx Americans, respectively, compared to white Americans. Experts say this disparity is in large part explained by the fact that people of color are more likely to work in jobs deemed essential during the pandemic, often with minimal protections against the virus. …

Illustrations: Richard Chance

97% of Black Americans and 90% of Latinx people have insufficient levels, and experts say public health guidelines are leaving them in the lurch

Deneen Sherrod knew something wasn’t right. “I was having pain in my joints, and I was aching all over,” said the 56-year-old IT specialist who lives near Baltimore. A two-time breast cancer survivor, Sherrod saw her doctor right away. Tests for lupus, Lyme disease, and rheumatoid arthritis all came back negative.

Then the results of her blood panel came back. “She said, ‘Your vitamin D is severely low,’” said Sherrod, who is Black. She was surprised when D2 supplements eased her pain. “I was like, really? Vitamin D [deficiency] is going to be causing pain like this?” she said. “At…

Why is it so hard for white folks to be wrong?

Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis News/Getty Images

If there’s one thing white people have (hopefully) come to understand over the last month, it’s that we have a lot to learn about anti-Black racism and a long way to go to achieve racial equity in this country.

White folks are also discovering how uncomfortable it is to be called out as wrong — whether we’re being told that a comment we made was racist or that we shouldn’t center ourselves in the conversations around #BlackLivesMatter on social media.

All of this begs the questions: Why is it so hard for white folks to be wrong? And how can…

Columbia public health experts call for systemic change

A woman in line to attend the public viewing for George Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church in Houston, Texas on June 8, 2020. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Co-authored with Rachel Nation and Robert E Fullilove

By now we have seen the videos, witnessed the final utterance of “I can’t breathe,” and heard the piercing wails of a whole community shedding tears of grief and anger as another Black man became reduced to a hashtag.

This uncoincidentally parallels a recent New York Times opinion, where sociologist Sabrina Strings, PhD, notes that disproportionate Covid-19-related deaths for Black Americans are largely due to racist policies that date back to slavery. The legacy of slavery prevails. Black bodies are continually treated as if they are congenitally diseased and undeserving of care.

Are you ready to look within?

Photo: SDI Productions/E+/Getty Images

In 2012, I fell in love with the art, science, and practice of psychotherapy. As I see it, spaces created by this discipline serve as oxygen to the crushing suffocation of the anti-Black, homophobic circumstances permeating the air I strive to breathe.

Learning how to be a therapist has not only sharpened my eyes to see myself more clearly, but also honed my ability to see my colleagues and the world. I believe the world can be changed by clearly seeing ourselves and others.

It is with love and dedication to what it means to see ourselves, as therapists, that…


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