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TOPIC: psychology


Now They're Diagnosing Burnout's Never-Quit Cousin: Burn-On

Feeling overworked but not yet burned out? Often the problem is “burn-on,” an under-researched phenomenon whose sufferers desperately struggle to keep up and meet their own expectations — with dangerous consequences for their health.

At first glance, Mr L seems to be a successful man with a well-rounded life: middle management, happily married, father of two. If you ask him how he is, he responds with a smile and a “Fine thanks”. But everything is not fine. When he was admitted to the psychosomatic clinic Kloster Diessen, Mr L described his emotional life as hollow and empty.

Although outwardly he is still putting on a good face, he has been privately struggling for some time. Everything that used to bring him joy and fun has become simply another chore. He can hardly remember what it feels like to enjoy his life.

For psychotherapist Professor Bert te Wildt, who heads the psychosomatic clinic in Ammersee in Bavaria, Germany, the symptoms of Patient L. make him a prime example of a new and so far under-researched syndrome, that he calls “burn-on”. Working with psychologist Timo Schiele, he has published his findings about the phenomenon in a book, Burn-On.

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A Deaf Child's Struggle, A Taste For Simple Things

"It’s just that all the hardships he has faced have made him more appreciative of the simple things — he’s happier than us."

When Pasquale was told that his newborn son was deaf, his world fell apart.

He held that long-awaited and longed-for baby in his arms and cried, not even daring to look him in the eye.

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A Very Neapolitan Kind Of Halloween

Instead of going trick-or-treating, our Naples-based psychiatrist asks herself a dialectal question.

When someone wishes you “Happy Halloween," how should you respond?

“Same to you, and kitammuort!?”

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Quantifying The Effects Of The Pandemic On Nonna's Cooking

"Dottoré, if today is to be my last lunch ..."

Back in the early days of the pandemic, a study was carried out on a sample of about 100 women in their seventies. It showed that the day after they got their first shot against COVID-19:

• 80% of the respondents woke up early to start making ragù, the meat sauce. Of these, the majority made it with pork ribs (tracchiolelle), a minority with ground beef.

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Alice Facchini

Italy's Orphans Of COVID: Children Who Lost Parents Are Also Left Alone By The State

In one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, thousands of Italian minors lost a parent or caregiver to COVID. However, unlike other places, Italy has yet to set out a clear plan to support them, leaving them more vulnerable to mental health issues, and even abuse.

ROME — Julia was 13 years old when her father was hospitalized for COVID. It was March 2020 and very little was known about the virus. When they loaded him into the ambulance, the girl had no idea that she would never see him again.

The following days at home were rough: her mother was very agitated because she could not get any information, while her little sister did not understand what was going on. And then came the news: Julia’s father had died, but no one knew if and when it would be possible to see him and conduct his funeral. Julia did not allow herself to cry. Instead, she told the psychologist who was seeing her: "Now I have to be strong, dad would have wanted it that way."

Her mother fell into depression, she had no job, and the entire family was left without financial support. "Can I get a job to help mom?," Julia asked the psychologist. For a moment she even thought of quitting school, but then changed her mind and got a part-time job as a babysitter.

After a few weeks, however, she broke down: she no longer felt like leaving her room, quit volleyball, and no longer wanted to go to school.

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Mariateresa Fichele

Fear Of Death — And Not Being Dressed Accordingly

"Antonietta, I'm completely fine. Don’t you even think of bringing me a nightgown.”

Antonietta has two obsessions: fine nightclothes, and death. Other people's death, that is.

Inside her psychosis-driven head, these two elements are linked as such: As soon as she hears that someone is ill, she shows up at their home, with a gift of silk nightgown or pajamas — worthy garments, she thinks, for someone who may be about to depart.

Today she came for a session and, unfortunately, I had a big headache.

"Dottoré, you don’t look well. Are you feeling ok?"

"Antonietta, I'm completely fine. Don’t you even think of bringing me a nightgown.”

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Mariateresa Fichele

Delusions Of Grandfather

"And where is your grandson?" — "Who knows. He must be old by now."

“Dottorè, do you know that I am a grandpa?”

When Gennaro told me this, at first I thought he was being delusional. But then I looked into his eyes: They were lucid — not because of the drugs his psychiatric treatment required, but from some strong emotion, something real that had at last lit up in his gaze.

Gennaro had to have a grandchild somewhere, and therefore also a child.

Yet, he had spent his life in a psychiatric hospital until 1994, and when he left the hospital, there was no trace of his previous life.

"And where is your grandson?"

"Who knows. He must be old by now. Maybe he's a grandfather himself. I've only seen him once: My son brought him to meet me outside the Leonardo Bianchi psychiatric hospital, when it was still open. He was ashamed to bring the baby there, it was the first and last time he came to see me.

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Mariateresa Fichele

Sowing The Seeds Of Paranoia

"They must be dumping garbage — good, it makes for good fertilizer!"

"Dottoré, I know a lot of flags, and let me tell you why. I grew up in the province of Caserta, and — like everybody in those days — my parents owned a piece of land, and they would take me with them to farm it.

I remember there were other kids in the fields around us. But then, slowly, we were the only ones left because everybody was selling the land, making a lot of money off of it too.

Papà wouldn't listen to reason and he kept the land. But in the meantime, instead of farmers, trucks began to arrive. Many many trucks, unloading thousands of barrels and burying them into the ground.

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Mariateresa Fichele

Of Rats And Men

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

"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?"

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Mariateresa Fichele

The Political Revelation Of A Windshield Cleaning

Charity may begin at home, but for our Naples-based psychiatrist, it also begins behind the wheel.

Every time we stop at a traffic light, the same scene takes place between my husband and me.

It goes something like this: Someone approaches our car to clean the windshield, I tell my husband to turn on the windshield wipers, he gets outraged and tells me I’m a horrible person.

But then, if we've instead decided to give them something in exchange for their service, my husband somehow never has any change on him. I always manage to find some, and feel obligated to give the person whatever I've found.

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Mariateresa Fichele

Vending Machine Blues: The Rising Cost Of A Healthy Break

"Dottoré, do you have 1.50 euro by any chance?"

Until recently, if you entered a Mental Health Center, you might be approached by a patient who asks you for a cigarette or a euro to buy a coffee.

But since they installed vending machines, things have changed, and the requests have become more specific.

The other day, a patient approached me and asked, "Dottoré, do you have 1.50 euro by any chance?"

"Pasquale, don't you think that's a bit much? What's the money for?"

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Mariateresa Fichele

Social Media Envy Is More Than Just Your Imagination

Our Naples psychiatrist's view on unrealistic social media standards, feeling inadequate, and the price of happiness.

Some of my female patients are struggling with the way life is exposed on social media. It is becoming extremely problematic not only in relation to the beauty standards exhibited online, but also the family models that are exposed.

Some women — who struggle with their role as working women and mothers or housewives — have difficulty in understanding that behind a bright young entrepreneur who constantly shows herself on social media as a loving mother and wife, immersed in an opulent and perfect reality, there is a hidden world of waiters, nannies, makeup artists, hairdressers, drivers, airplane pilots and photographers, who certainly do not appear in videos and Instagram stories.

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