The mental health perils of travelling abroad

I vividly remember my first visit to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, that cavernous museum lodged in a Beaux-Arts former railway station. After floating, enraptured, from one Impressionist gallery to the next, I turned a corner and suddenly found myself facing one of Monet’s famous series of water lily paintings. I’d seen pictures of this in Janson’s 1962 History of Art, and in slide shows back in art college classes, but here I was, actually standing in front of the massive original.

I burst into tears.

This spontaneous reaction was utterly surprising to me – but it might not be for those who study such reactions. This was likely, as Italian psychiatrist Dr. Graziella Magherini first described it in 1979, just a simple case of “La Sindrome di Stendhal” or Florence Syndrome. Looking at great art, she maintained, just might be hard on your mental health.   Continue reading

When the little darlings won’t eat fresh fruit

It’s back-to-school time, warn the editors at Consumer Reports, and that means it’s time to answer an annual question:

“How tasty are lunch box options when your children won’t eat fresh fruit?”

The answer, say the kids who recently taste-tested packaged fruit cups for Consumer Reports:

“It depends.”

Let me interrupt this fascinating bit of science for full disclosure: as a mother of two (one of whom was only rarely picky, the other a bottomless pit of imminent starvation), I feel compelled to say that any kid of mine who would dare to advise me that they “won’t eat fresh fruit” would be going hungry. Continue reading

How the “shrink’s bible” can make you sick

In essence, Dr. Allen Frances is the guy who wrote the book on mental illness. As editor of the 4th edition of the psychiatric reference book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (universally known as the DSM-IV), he now makes this grim admission about what’s been called the “bible” of the psychiatric profession:   “We made mistakes that had terrible consequences.”      Continue reading