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Geopolitics

Chronic Shyness: The High Price Of Social Phobia

Chronic shyness and social phobia can make life a living hell. Identifying it early on in life can help.

Chronic Shyness: The High Price Of Social Phobia
Paula Ravaux

Adrenaline surges can sometimes be a good thing. An attack of the nerves may even stimulate thoughts and enhance performance at school or work. But when shyness is so real that it transforms itself into stark fear of others, it becomes pathological.

Only recently recognized as a proper illness, social phobia belongs to the family of social anxiety disorders, which "includes a spectrum of conditions, from the mildest to the most serious," says Christophe André, a psychiatrist at the Sainte-Anne hospital in Paris.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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