NY Times op ed writer Nicholas Kristoff has a column today -
Researchers from the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C., studied the effects of expressive writing on 71 adults with leukemia or lymphoma who journaled their thoughts while waiting for their regular oncology appointments. The patients were asked to write their thoughts in answer to the question: How has cancer changed you, and how do you feel about those changes?
After the writing assignment, about half of the cancer patients said the exercise had changed their thinking about their illness, while 35 percent reported that writing changed the way they felt about their illness. Three weeks after the writing exercise, the effect had been maintained. Writing had the biggest impact on patients who were younger and recently diagnosed. While a change in the way a patient thinks or feels about a disease may not sound like much, the findings showed that the brief writing exercise led to improved quality of life.
“Thoughts and feelings, or the cognitive processing and emotions related to cancer, are key writing elements associated with health benefits,'’ said Nancy P. Morgan, director of the center’s Arts and Humanities Program. “Writing about only the facts has shown no benefit.”
The researchers also analyzed the content of the patient writings. Most of the patients noted that cancer had been life-changing. Many patients wrote that the changes were positive ones and that cancer had altered their views about family, spirituality, work and the future. One patient wrote: “Don’t get me wrong, cancer isn’t a gift, it just showed me what the gifts in my life are.”
Although people speak of renewed “war,” the violence is more likely to resemble what happens in a stockyard. If it is like the last time, government-sponsored Arab militias will slaughter civilians so as to terrorize local populations and drive them far away from oil wells.
Under the 2005 deal that ended the war, Sudan is supposed to hold elections early next year, but President Bashir is unlikely to allow them because he almost surely would lose. Likewise, Mr. Bashir is unlikely to abide by his commitment to allow the south to hold a referendum in 2011 to decide whether to separate from Sudan because southerners would likely vote overwhelmingly for independence — and more than three-quarters of the country’s oil is in the south.
One of the lessons of Darfur, Rwanda and Bosnia is that it is much easier to avert a genocide ahead of time than to put the pieces together afterward. So let’s not wait until gunshots are ringing out again all over the south.