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Dottoré!

Of Rats And Men

Our Naples-based psychiatrist remembers a 2019 conversation with a patient on the geopolitics of pest control.

photo of a wall with a graffitied rat

Street rat street art

Mariateresa Fichele

"Carmela, how long did you have to fight rats entering your house?"

"Eh, Dottoré, for years!"

"And how did end up solving it?"

"I adopted three cats that were in my street!"

"And then what happened?"


"The man who lives on the first floor has a garden, so he didn’t like the cats and poisoned them. He said he preferred the rats — but truly, they are as disgusting as he is!"

"Did you complain to the other people who live in the building? To the building manager? And what did they say?"

"They told me they were afraid to say anything because that guy is up to no good. But sorry, Dottoré, what does it have to do with the question I asked you?"

"You asked me about this war in Syria you heard about in the news. So this is what I did: Let's say that you are Syria, the cats are the Kurds, Turkey is the bad neighbor and the jihadists are the rats."

"And the building manager and the other neighbors, who do they represent?"

"The rest of the world, Carmé."



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This focus on biological sex differences turned out to be woefully inadequate, as a group of Harvard-affiliated researchers pointed out earlier this year. By analyzing more than a year of sex-disaggregated COVID-19 data, they showed that the gender gap was more fully explained by social factors like mask-wearing and distancing behaviors (less common among men) and testing rates (higher among pregnant women and health workers, who were largely female).

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