The Perfect Storm: Sources of the depression epidemic | Psychology Today

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America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-being
Source: Forum on Child and Family Statistics

Source: The Perfect Storm | Psychology Today

This blog article in Psychology Today traces the top five causes of the epidemic of depression here in the U.S. (and in fact, throughout much of the world). These include:

1. The erosion of traditional social structures and communities. “A gradual disintegration of the social fabric, which has closely paralleled industrial and technological growth, has resulted in greater isolation and loneliness… we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, and neighbors. Urbanization and the breakup of the extended family and rural community are leading causes of this social atomization.”

2. Changes in modes of communication. “Following the physical upheaval of urbanization, the world has been swept by a tidal wave of electronic innovation… [The] alarming rise in depression among U.S. youth during the period 2004–2015… coincides with the birth and rapid growth of smartphone usage during the same period. While this does not prove a cause-effect relationship, it would seem to reinforce an urgent need to closely examine the impact of smartphone usage on the communication skills and psychological well-being of young people.”

3. Changes in Diet. “Consumption of processed foods, which mostly contain a serious imbalance of omega fats, large quantities of sugar, and a lack of fermented ingredients, are radically affecting the delicate balance of our gut flora. A landmark comparison between North Africans and North Americans revealed sharp declines in bacterial diversity among the North American group, including genera containing the psychobiotic strains… Is fast food and processed food throwing our microbiome, that is, our internal environment, into chaos in the same way that pollution is destroying the macrobiome?”

[Note: the Weston A. Price Foundation has been saying this since 1999; Dr. Price himself raised the alarm regarding processed foods vs traditional dietary patterns, back in the 1930s and 40s. This is not new information! But it’s finally beginning to be recognized by the mainstream.]

4. The intense competition surrounding education among industrialized nations. “Korea, Japan, China, and to a growing degree, Western nations, are experiencing an exponential rise in youth depression… fierce competition in the academic arena, in which academic success is equated with social and economic “success” by parents, is leading to a loss of personal autonomy and acute stress. Secondary schools are now largely focused on exam-centered curricula… marked by a lack of content related to life skills, social-emotional learning, and wellbeing in general.”

5. The familiar socio-economic suspects, including war and poverty. “Nations strongly affected by conflict and extreme poverty, with an emphasis on extreme, rank relatively high on the depression scale and low in happiness and satisfaction. Nonetheless, the relationship between GDP and depression/happiness rates is by no means linear… Personal freedom and the presence of social networks, two factors inversely correlated to depression mentioned above, are highly related to scores on the Positive Experience Index of the Global Emotions Report.”

Assuming that the above is accurate, and based on my own experience and informal research, I believe it is, what is most interesting in all this to me – aside from a certain degree of grim satisfaction of the “I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so” variety – is that four out of five of these factors are both endemic to, and so far as can be determined, unique to, our modern/postmodern age. Our ancestors had rough lives in many respects – rougher than ours in most – but they do not appear to have suffering from comparable levels of depression… which has spiked in recent years, as recounted in the linked article, and many others.

These contributing factors to the contemporary depression epidemic can therefore (despite the usual disclaimers about correlation not equalling causation) be pretty much laid at the feet of our abandonment of traditional approaches, thoughts, understandings, philosophies, and ways of living and being, in so many areas of life, from foodways to lifeways, from communication to education.

This mindless neophilia, this willingness (even eagerness) to cast aside the traditional, the tried and true, and to eternally chase after the supposedly “new and improved,” which is so characteristic of our present society, is going to kill us – is killing us – if we do not moderate it with a more sensitive and sympathetic appropriation and re-adoption of traditional norms and ways of life.

Once again, I hate to say I told you so, but……!

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Personal note: new water bottle!

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It is neither particularly Anglophilic, nor particularly Anglican, but I have a “real” water bottle again, after years of making do with reused juice bottles (reduce, reuse, recycle…). Visited REI Outdoors in Columbia yesterday, and splurged a bit to purchase this one.

It celebrates both the Appalachian Trailthe longest hiking-only footpath in the world, running some 2200 miles, from Maine to Georgia – and the 50th Anniversary (2018) of the National Trails System Act; a portion of the proceeds (5%) go to support our National Scenic Trails, so I can use that to help justify the purchase!

Pictured with my digital indoor-outdoor thermometer (the “outdoor” portion of which isn’t working again, darn it!) and an assortment of pocketknives.


Side note: I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t notice until just now that REI was sponsoring a hike at Catoctin Mountain Park (just across Route 77 from Cunningham Falls State Park, where I used to work, and a beautiful area of the state) today… until I saw that it had been canceled! So now I don’t need to be disappointed. I do need to get out to that area again, and do some hiking, though!

Ryan Hunter on New York’s distressing new abortion law

My wise and perceptive friend, Ryan Hunter, comments on the State of New York’s rites of Moloch newest abortion law. A magisterial treatment of a very difficult issue, heart-felt and compassionate. Sometimes I think he’s the one who should be the priest, instead of me! Copied and pasted by permission of the author: as of this writing, it is not yet up on his site, and I am grateful for his permission to post it here. He writes:


I have lately refrained from making the slightest political commentary on the government shutdown crisis and Speaker Pelosi and Pres. Trump’s war of words, Brexit and PM May’s various crises, or the latest expansion of abortion access under the recent New York State law. I won’t comment on the first two issues now, but as regards the abortion legislation signed by my state’s “Catholic” Governor Andrew Cuomo, the law is appallingly and deliberately vague in its language. It will have the effect of making it easier for women to seek an abortion after 24 weeks’ gestation for *any* reason that they can frame as even remotely relating to their “health”, whether physical or mental. This vague term, “health”—as broadly defined and applied as possible—has always been the gate through which abortion access has progressively expanded since states began decriminalizing it in the 1960s and then the U.S. Supreme Court did so in 1973.

According to statistics provided by the nation’s leading, licensed abortion providers, well over 50 million abortions have taken place in the U.S. alone since 1973. Think about that number, and the potentiality of each of these lives which never manifested on earth. How many brilliant poets and musicians, much-needed political reformers and wise scholars, curers of cancer or inventors of brilliant new technologies, were never given the chance to live at all?

What does a fetus, a developing human in utero, look like at 24 weeks, 6 months—two-thirds of the way through normal pregnancy? To give you some sense of this reality of a developing human pregnancy, I was born at a little over 5 months’ gestation—3 months and 20 days premature. Every organ was formed, my facial features entirely defined, my toes and fingers able to move, I could make noise, laugh and cry, open my eyes, smile, etc. I was, in other words, born entirely and inescapably human, and would have been just as human had I been born a second or an hour or a day earlier, or a second or an hour or a day later. My humanity was not contingent on a magically defined numerical deadline of X amount of weeks, or whether my parents wanted me, could afford me, etc. My humanity, as with every single person’s, simply *was*, and it simply *is*.

I survived being born so early without any physical or mental handicap whatsoever. This was thanks to the grace of God, the prayers of my parents, grandparents, and so many loved ones, the dedicated care of diligent doctors and nurses, and the best medical technology in the neonatal units of Georgetown University and Northern Virginia’s Fairfax Hospital.

Weighing a pound and a half, and less than a foot long, according to my medical records, I was born 3 months and 20 days premature. I was supposed to be born on 22 October but was born on 2 July. Granted, this was 28 years ago, and my survival then was something of a medical miracle, but please reflect and realize, when we are talking about the 24 week term spelled out by the new law, that abortions are now to be conditionally permitted for the pregnant woman’s health (whatever this can and will be defined to mean) well after the gestation period I had reached at the time I was born.

This legislation is vaguely defined so as to make it immensely easy for women who are not in mortal danger to secure an abortion after their pregnancy is well-advanced, after the fetus is entirely capable of feeling pain, moving about, etc. This is why vague terms used such as “women’s reproductive health” are just that—deliberately vague, nonsensical euphemisms that serve only to obscure the reality of what is taking place in a late-term abortion.

Every woman in the world deserves so much better than to have to face—even for a moment—the desperate thought of considering abortion. Most women who do get abortions do so desperately, with a sense of last resort of despair—may God heal and forgive them, and all who pressured them, or failed to support their pregnancy, or shamed them. Any man who encourages or forces a woman to abort is committing a colossal evil.

The minority of women and men who somehow, in this mad world today, casually endorse abortion after consensual sex do not know what it means to have a fully developed, healthy conscience—something foundational is missing in their basic sense of moral ethics or intelligence, and they do not recognize personhood for what it actually is. It is telling that none of the world’s religious traditions expressed and manifested in the last 4,000 years endorse any notion of casual abortion on demand. Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu sages permit it only narrowly and exceptionally, whereas Christian ones have traditionally forbidden it entirely.

Abortion is a choice that represents a collective failure of society, not just the woman alone, and one that no woman should have to make. But this worth that every woman has, uniquely, must not be made to contrast with the equally valuable worth and right of every human being to experience life in the world itself—which, unavoidably, can only happen once one is born. Women are not gods over their bodies any more than are men; our bodies are a sacred trust to us from God, and we will return them to the Divine one day, with our bodies to answer as much as our souls.

Other than the tragic, exceptionally rare instances in which a woman’s life is actually truly endangered by continuation of pregnancy, there is always a more humane, healing, and healthy alternative to abortion. There is always a chance that the birth of the new life can be a source of good, of healing, of rejoicing, of giving something of light and beauty and truth into the world. Abortion guarantees only one thing: a life will be ended, a child not born. Choosing life allows for any possible potentialities to develop. Purely mathematically, it’s the far more positive choice, open to the possibility of good things happening to both mother and child. Abortion is a literal statistical dead-end.

Generations from now, societies will look back at our self-assured “progressive” views on abortion, and regard them as utterly barbarian, the product of little intellectual reflection and far less ethical formation. All peoples, nations, and states have degrees of good and bad, holiness and evil, in them. But in any free society, a state’s laws are ultimately a fair, relatively accurate indicator of its mores. To whatever extent New York is actually a free political society, this law is unbelievably damning.

What madness now passes for “progress” and what worship of darkness passes for “enlightenment”? God protect us from ourselves… We can, and must, do so much better. Go out, help women facing unplanned pregnancies with any means you have, donate your time and money to pro-life adoption agencies and women’s clinics that help both women and their babies, and end the atrocious stigmas against single mothers. We need to build a more humane, nobler society, one that relegates a culture of abortion to the same area as chattel slavery, legal racial segregation, forced child marriage, and human sacrifice.


Amen, and amen! Thank you again, Ryan, for your permission to share this.

Review: siggi’s Icelandic-style yogurt (skyr)

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siggi’s icelandic-style yogurt uses simple ingredients and not a lot of sugar. it’s thick, creamy, rich in protein and packed with probiotic milk cultures.

Source: siggi’s Icelandic-style yogurt: skyr – Home

I don’t often do product reviews, still less promotions, and it takes a lot to impress me. But if you, like me, think that most of the yogurts in today’s marketplace are WAY too sweet (and/or have too many artificial ingredients) – or if you are interested in getting in touch with your Norse heritage through your taste-buds, or both – you might want to consider giving siggi’s a try.

Found in the yogurt section (and called “yogurt” in the same way taekwondo is often called “karate”), it is actually Icelandic-style skyr, a close relative to but not identical with yogurt, or (in the case of the drinkable varieties) fil mjolk, also an Icelandic specialty.

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In addition to the flavor and lack of excessive sweetness, what gets me excited about siggi’s is the short ingredient list, with all-natural ingredients that our grandparents would recognize as food! Continue reading “Review: siggi’s Icelandic-style yogurt (skyr)”

What Really Lies At The Root Of Our Culture’s Suicide Epidemic | Daily Wire

Woman praying.

Anthony Bourdain killed himself today. Fashion designer Kate Spade committed suicide earlier in the week. That’s two prominent suicides in the span of just a few days. And they are far from alone, sadly. Suicide is a veritable epidemic across the nation. Suicide rates are on the rise in almost every state. In some areas, they have risen by 30% or more. This is not normal. Something is happening. But what? And why?

Source: WALSH: What Really Lies At The Root Of Our Culture’s Suicide Epidemic | Daily Wire

While this essay deals specifically with what seems to be an epidemic of suicides, including and most noticeably among prominent / “celebrity” individuals, I think the issues Walsh identifies can be applied more broadly, to include, inter alia, what seems to another “epidemic”: that of mass shootings. The crisis is the same, it’s how people react to it that’s different: some lash out at others; some lash out at themselves. Some commit violent crimes, while others commit self-harm… but the roots of the ailment are identical. He writes,

“People will say that suicide is on the rise because we are not doing enough to fight the ‘mental health crisis,’ but this can’t be the cause. We have never been more aware of, or more proactive against, mental health issues, yet the suicide rate only continues to climb. The rate was a fraction of what it is today back when nobody had ever even heard of ‘mental health.’ The purely psychological explanations just don’t hold up. Clearly there is a deeper problem here.

“I think that problem is emptiness. There is an emptiness at the core of our culture, and from this root the suicide epidemic grows. We have fled from God, from meaning, from purpose, and embraced a soft kind of nihilism; a nihilism that will not call itself nihilism. It uses other words and slogans to describe itself. ‘You only live once,’ it says. ‘Live your truth.’ People are told that there is only one life, one reality, and it has no meaning aside from what you assign to it. But what happens when you no longer see meaning? Well, our culture says, if you do not see it then it is not there.

“Those who seek happiness by following the well-worn paths will inevitably fall into this pit. If you do what everyone else is doing, and live how they live, and walk in their footsteps, you will end up in the same darkness. You will begin to feel that there is no hope and no point and no real beauty or joy to be found in life. And this is the state in which so many of us are living…

“And the crisis only worsens because we refuse to trace it all the way down to its roots. We stop at the brain, at chemical reactions and psychological disorders, but we never pause to ask why all of our brains have apparently gone haywire in modern times. If this is all just a matter of mental disorders, why in the hell are these ‘mental disorders’ so common now?”

A good question, but I will let you read the article itself to learn Walsh’s answer to it. It’s fairly short, I’ll wait while you read it. And if you are a regular reader of The Anglophilic Anglican, you will not be surprised that I agree with him, 100 percent!

But I would also suggest that the crisis is not just spiritual, but cultural as well (the two are, of course, not unrelated). When there is little stability, little homogeneity or sense of being a part of something larger (unless it is some victim group), little rootedness in community, culture, ancestral heritage, or tradition, it is hardly surprising that many people will come unmoored, psycho-emotionally… or that for some, that will lead to violence – whether directed against oneself, or against others.

We are reaping the bitter harvest of the seeds we have sown.

The Medical and Legal Establishment Has Got It Wrong On Alfie Evans | Musings of an Old Curmudgeon

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Of all the worldwide comment on the Alfie Evans case, the core truth was best encapsulated by a headline in the Wall Street Journal: “Alfie Evans and the State. A medical debate that’s gone global is not about the money. It’s about power.”

Source: Musings of an Old Curmudgeon: The Medical and Legal Establishment Has Got It Wrong On Alfie Evans

Most readers are probably at least somewhat familiar with the case of Alfie Evans, a 23-month-old boy from Liverpool with a still-undiagnosed neurodegenerative disorder (a fact which is itself concerning), who died in Alder Hey Hospital in Britain after a British court ordered life support removed (technically, they ruled that doctors could order the removal of life support, which they did).

This, despite his parents’ valiant fight to take him to Italy for further treatment, which resulted in Alfie being granted Italian citizenship, the Pope chartering a state-of-the-art air ambulance to fly him there, and the Italian government and even military standing by to serve in a support role.

Despite international outcry and support for Alfie and his parents, the hospital not only took him off the respirator – after which he continue to surprise everyone by living four more days – but for even denied him sustenance and hydration, and went so far as to station a police cordon outside the hospital so that he could not be removed.

The argument was that airlifting him to Italy – where he would, as is generally accepted, have had no more hope of recovery than in Britain – would not be “in the child’s best interest.” Apparently starving and dehydrating him was.

I was a relative latecomer to this saga, but after learning about it, the incident has touched me deeply. I found the linked response to be particularly on-target:

“[At] every stage of this power struggle, the motive invoked was Alfie’s ‘best interests.’

“In the event, Alfie’s best interests turned out to consist of removing his ventilation, depriving him of nutrition for more than 24 hours, giving him minimal hydration and refusing, with the support of the courts, to release him from the hospital where this regime was being imposed on him. Although judicial permission had been given, in principle though not in practice, for his parents to take him home, this was deferred due to fears they might abscond with him to Rome and secure him humane treatment…

“Nobody expected a miracle cure at the Bambino Gesù (though its world-class clinicians might at least have succeeded in diagnosing Alfie’s illness, in the interests of medical research). What was expected was that Alfie could have ended his days among people who did not automatically regard his best interests as synonymous with death. His palliative care would have been of a high order and, as a moral principle, he would not have been starved or dehydrated to death – the point at which gently allowing a hopeless case to slip away crosses the red line to become euthanasia…

“And what about his parents? In that environment they could have spent invaluable time with their son, become reconciled to the inevitability of his death, in the consoling knowledge that every human endeavour had been exhausted in the effort to save him. That experience would have brought them – though the over-used term may jar – ‘closure.’

“Why was that not allowed to happen? The air ambulance ordered by the Pope was state-of-the-art, the medical personnel highly qualified, even the Italian military were involved and the danger of harm to Alfie in transit minimal; and, if he had died naturally, it would have been no worse than suffocating at Alder Hey. At least his parents would have done their best for him.

“But family and parental rights are being marginalized in Britain. It was spelled out from the judicial bench that parental rights took second place to the child’s best interests, a subjective term that turned out to be a euphemism for killing him… Here, however, we had two loving parents, in full agreement, trying to take their child abroad with every medical facility both in transit and at their destination, but prevented by the state.

“That is the grim reality: Alfie Evans [was] a prisoner of the State.”

It was and is a tragedy. Not Great Britain’s finest hour!

Blood Upon Us: Ireland, Holy Week, and 300,000 Pieces of Silver | Ethika Politika

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Source: Blood Upon Us: Ireland, Holy Week, and 300,000 Pieces of Silver | Ethika Politika

This came across my news-feed from a good friend’s page, with this selection quoted:

“In May of this year, Irish voters will again go to the polls to decide upon the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution. The amendment recognizes that an unborn infant has the right to live, and it effectively renders abortion, which was already illegal in all thirty-two counties, unconstitutional in the Republic of Ireland. The amendment, which was approved by a two-to-one vote in the plebiscite of 1983, is almost certain to be repealed. Legislation to liberalize abortion will follow quickly.

“We will hear the whole thing described as a leap forward for gender equality and women’s reproductive health, and so on and so forth. The repeal, the ensuing legislation, and the resulting brutal termination of the lives of Irish children in the womb will be put down to a long-overdue decline of the influence of the Catholic Church in Irish society. In short, it will be seen as a mark of the progress we have made out of the bondage of religion and into the freedom of, well, who knows what.

“In fact, the real progress we have made is from a society in which sacrifice and self-disregard were esteemed as virtue to a society in which the easy way out, always the short road to Hell, is held up as a ‘personal choice.’ It is, in short, the progress from Palm Sunday to Good Friday. It would seem that, for now at least, the children of this world are wiser than the children of the light.”

Or at least, think they are. Here is the text of the amendment in question:

“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

One might reasonably ask, what sort of person thinks this is a heinous and unacceptable assault on the rights of women?

I have, in general, been reticent about commenting on the issue of abortion. It is, to say the least, a controversial and emotionally-fraught issue, and one must pick the hills on which one chooses to fight and, perhaps, die (metaphorically speaking, one hopes – unlike the victims of abortion). But this move, to amend the Constitution of Ireland, hit home to me.

I spent a semester studying abroad in Ireland, in 1990. It was at that time still emphatically a Catholic – and a Christian – country, although more contemporary and “politically correct” views were already beginning to creep in. At the time, if I had any opinion on abortion at all, it was that (in the words of President Bill Clinton), it should be “safe, legal — and rare.” That is to say, legal in order to keep it safe, and viewed as a last resort for the most tragic of cases.

I still believe that, in principle. The problem, as I have come to realize in the years since, is that in practice, being safe and legal, it is far from rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control, which tracks abortions, in the U.S. in 2014 “652,639 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC from 49 reporting areas. The abortion rate for 2014 was 12.1 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 186 abortions per 1,000 live births.”

That figure is dismayingly high, and cannot be explained, I believe, as accounting for only the most tragic and extreme of circumstances. It is difficult to escape the conclusion, in other words, that for far too many people, abortion is being used as a form of birth-control, after the fact. In fact, the very slogans used imply as much.

Abortion proponents have gotten more canny, in the U.S., in recent years, as overall support for abortion has begun to slip. Rather than the older and far more in-your-face demands for “abortion on demand without apology,” they now use the kinder, gentler, more compassion-inducing “my body, my choice.” But the reality is that a fetus is not – just! – part of a woman’s body, some lump of tissue like a pancreas or a benign tumor. Her body is her own, unquestionably: but the unborn is something more.

She hosts it, of course! She carries it within her, for nine months; she nourishes it, via her umbilical cord. Until able to survive outside the womb, the unborn can only exist within the mother. These are not immaterial or incidental considerations.

But from the time it begins to form, indeed from conception, the fetus is a distinct, individual organism, with distinct, individual DNA, a distinct, individual genetic blueprint: formed from a combination of the genes of both the mother and the father, but different from either.

This is not right-wing opinion, neither is it religious doctrine; this is scientific fact (it is interesting how enthusiastically so many folks on the left trumpet science… right up until it conflicts with one of their fondly-held ideological views).

“My body, my choice” is a lie, or at best it is a half-truth, used to defend what is, in most cases, a choice of convenience. I am sorry, I know that is probably a hard thing to hear, for many people. It is not easy for me to write. But it is the truth.

Therapeutic abortion – abortion undertaken for reasons of medical necessity, in which the termination of the pregnancy is an unfortunate result, but not the intended reason, for the procedure – is one thing. But I am not here talking about therapeutic abortion, I am talking about elective abortion: abortion undertaken for the specific and sole purpose of ending the pregnancy.

That sort of abortion is certainly useful if one’s goal is population control. And it is certainly useful if one desires not to be encumbered with an unwanted pregnancy, either because one made an unwise choice, or because one’s birth control method of choice failed.

But it is not only fatal to the aborted fetus – a unique individual, and one we who are Christians cannot assume is lacking a soul, although we do not know the details of when or how God grants that – but it has been shown to have negative psycho-emotional effects on the mother, and – perhaps most controversially – has negative effects on society as well.

Between six and seven hundred thousand abortions per year cannot, in my view, help but contribute to the numbing of America, when it comes to the sanctity of life. That, in turn, leads to all sorts of unintended – and deeply negative – consequences, almost certainly including a mentality in which the mass murder of innocents becomes thinkable.

After all, if the termination of 652,639 pregnancies each year – 1,788 each and every day – is not the mass murder of innocents, it is hard to imagine what is! And it happens under the imprimatur of the legal and medical establishment.

What sort of message is that sending, out into the larger culture? What message is that sending to our young people, who are also dealing with many other demoralizing and dehumanizing messages? Not a good one, I’ll warrant.

Am I saying there is a direct, causal relationship between the two – that abortion leads directly to school shootings? Well, no… not exactly. Not directly. But indirectly? Absolutely. How could it not? Something, or someone, is inconvenient to you? Bothers you? Upsets you? Get rid of it! Kill it! Throw it away. That’s the message, unintended or no.

There are many other factors involved, too, of course. Abortion is just one factor among many. But it’s a mistake not to think that it IS a factor, in my opinion – and a fairly major one at that – in the overall loss of America’s moral bearings.

652,639 abortions is nearly 18 times the number killed in traffic fatalities annually in the U.S. (37,461 in 2016), a staggering 49 times the number killed by gun violence (13,286 in 2015) – though that number attracts the most attention – and even 2.6 times the horrific number killed by medical malpractice (estimated at around 250,000 annually).

Can this possibly not be having an effect on the psyche and morals of a nation? It’s hard to imagine how it could not. And now Ireland is poised to join the club. Sad.

 


 

For further details on the duplicity of this effort, see “Medical myths about Eighth Amendment must be challenged: Campaign of fear and misinformation has been deployed to tarnish reputation of Irish medicine.”