Man Up and Talk about Paternal Postpartum

“How are you feeling, emotionally? Any long periods of sadness or worry?” In between ultrasounds and heartbeats and blood pressure readings, my obstetrician asks about my mental health during every prenatal visit. She also brings up the possibility of postpartum depression once this kid is born in a few months, reminding me that many women experience it at some level and how important it is to seek help if persistent feelings of anxiety, sadness, or detachment last longer than a couple of weeks.

It’s reassuring to know my doctor is alert to this overwhelming condition that has affected so many of my friends and acquaintances, from milder cases to a severe case of wanting to die and having intrusive thoughts of hurting the baby. Between 9 and 16 percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I’m confident that if I experience PPD in any form, I’ll have a sympathetic professional ear and immediate medical treatment available to me as a new mother.

But Radish Magazine points out that postpartum depression in dads is just as common as in moms—and the same culture that has learned to open up about the condition in women isn’t quite as prepared for it in men.

Keep reading …

It’s a cardinal human experience: Someone we love dies, and we grieve  the loss. This powerful emotion has inspired scores of poets, from  Aeschylus to Jay-Z, and serves as the central metaphor of humanity for  at least one of the world’s major religions.
In contemporary Western psychology, however, bereavement represents a  conundrum. A depressed mood, diminished pleasure in normal activities,  disrupted appetite and sleep patterns, thoughts of death—these are the  hallmarks of bereavement. And they’re also the measures clinicians use  to diagnose treatable depression. This confusion is reopening the debate  over what constitutes mental health.
Keep reading …

It’s a cardinal human experience: Someone we love dies, and we grieve the loss. This powerful emotion has inspired scores of poets, from Aeschylus to Jay-Z, and serves as the central metaphor of humanity for at least one of the world’s major religions.

In contemporary Western psychology, however, bereavement represents a conundrum. A depressed mood, diminished pleasure in normal activities, disrupted appetite and sleep patterns, thoughts of death—these are the hallmarks of bereavement. And they’re also the measures clinicians use to diagnose treatable depression. This confusion is reopening the debate over what constitutes mental health.

Keep reading …

In a buck-stops-here, brass-tacks era of hard economic choices, there will always be some who ask the inevitable question: What is the purpose of art? As it turns out, there are nearly as many answers to this question as there are artists. To Picasso, the purpose of art was “washing  the dust of daily life off our souls.” Josef Albers thought art was for  visualizing “the human attitude towards life, towards the world,” while  Jean Anouilh thought art was meant “to give life a shape.” Even ancient  Aristotle, when he wasn’t inventing logic, had an opinion on the  matter. “The aim of art,” he said, “is to represent not the outward  appearance of things, but their inward significance.”  
Despite this divergence of opinion, you’ll note that these answers agree on one thing. Art is definitively worth something. It’s not an idle pursuit meant “to waste time,” or “to fill empty  space.” Art is about being engaged in the world, about grappling with  what needs to be grappled with.  And in fact, despite the grim view of policy makers, when times are tough people tend particularly to seek art out. During  past national moments of crisis—the Great Depression of the 1930s, for instance, and the prolonged 1970s R ecession — a wide number of artists addressed the challenges of their  times through their music, visual art, films, plays, and literature,  and  people soaked their art up.
Consider the song  “This Land Is Your Land,” for a moment. Written by Woody Guthrie at the tail end of the Great Depression, just a year or so before the  United States entered into World War II, it was meant as a response to  the Irving Berlin’s blandly patriotic song, “God Bless America.” Though  Berlin wrote his song in 1918, in 1938 he revised it for the singer Kate  Smith to use on her weekly radio show. Guthrie grew tired of hearing  Smith sing the song, which he considered insipid and out-of-touch, so he  wrote a more realistic, if sweeping, portrait of the country that also  encapsulated the feelings of people who had been shut out from the good  life during the Great Depression. The genius of  “This Land Is Your  Land,” perhaps, was that the Depression-inspired protest in the song’s  central lyric (“This land is made for you and me”) was subtle, voiced  not as a complaint or call to arms but as a positive (yet still  socialistic) sentiment of equality and belonging.
Keep reading …

In a buck-stops-here, brass-tacks era of hard economic choices, there will always be some who ask the inevitable question: What is the purpose of art? As it turns out, there are nearly as many answers to this question as there are artists. To Picasso, the purpose of art was “washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Josef Albers thought art was for visualizing “the human attitude towards life, towards the world,” while Jean Anouilh thought art was meant “to give life a shape.” Even ancient Aristotle, when he wasn’t inventing logic, had an opinion on the matter. “The aim of art,” he said, “is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”  

Despite this divergence of opinion, you’ll note that these answers agree on one thing. Art is definitively worth something. It’s not an idle pursuit meant “to waste time,” or “to fill empty space.” Art is about being engaged in the world, about grappling with what needs to be grappled with. And in fact, despite the grim view of policy makers, when times are tough people tend particularly to seek art out. During past national moments of crisis—the Great Depression of the 1930s, for instance, and the prolonged 1970s R ecession a wide number of artists addressed the challenges of their times through their music, visual art, films, plays, and literature, and people soaked their art up.

Consider the song “This Land Is Your Land,” for a moment. Written by Woody Guthrie at the tail end of the Great Depression, just a year or so before the United States entered into World War II, it was meant as a response to the Irving Berlin’s blandly patriotic song, “God Bless America.” Though Berlin wrote his song in 1918, in 1938 he revised it for the singer Kate Smith to use on her weekly radio show. Guthrie grew tired of hearing Smith sing the song, which he considered insipid and out-of-touch, so he wrote a more realistic, if sweeping, portrait of the country that also encapsulated the feelings of people who had been shut out from the good life during the Great Depression. The genius of  “This Land Is Your Land,” perhaps, was that the Depression-inspired protest in the song’s central lyric (“This land is made for you and me”) was subtle, voiced not as a complaint or call to arms but as a positive (yet still socialistic) sentiment of equality and belonging.

Keep reading …