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Editor’s letter www.newint.org
The missing piece of the mental health puzzle
As an undergraduate, I took psychology for two years. People who study the subject tend to be drawn to it because they are seeking to solve puzzles in their own mental makeup. I was no exception.
But I was also seeking another connection and answers to the question: what is my place in the world? That led to an informal dalliance with philosophy as well.
I didn’t know it then, but the answers aren’t readymade, and I am still working them out. An answer I find particularly important is: in order to find my place in the world, I need to be of it. However much I love solitude, disconnection is a dead end.
This has been painfully brought home on the many occasions I have had to visit locked psychiatric wards. Whatever their faults – tedium seems more common now than the horrors recounted by survivors just a couple of decades ago – they can be places where some people in extreme mental distress find the time and space to make peace with themselves. Society at large seldom offers such a space.
The challenge of mental ill health is often seen only as an individual challenge; the social challenge to build inclusive, supportive communities is barely considered, perhaps because it appears too great a task. Or perhaps because it is too much like common sense.
Since this edition was announced last month, readers have been writing in, wishing to contribute on this theme. Sadly, we were fully commissioned by then, but as ever we want to know what you think. So do email or write to us.
Also included this month is ex-soldier Joe Glenton’s considered exploration of the meaning of war for his great-grandfather (who fought in World War One) and for him, and his own conscientious objection to ‘collateral damage’ in Afghanistan.
Ace researcher Joyce Nelson returns to our pages to expose how corporate players are licking their chops at the prospect of global freshwater shortages. ■
DINYAR GODREJ for the New Internationalist Co-operative www.newint.org
This month’s contributors include...
US-born writer Lauri Kubuitsile has lived in Botswana for 13 years. Follow her blog on: thoughtsfrombotswana. blogspot.co.uk
Stephanie Boyd is a writer and independent filmmaker who has been living and working in Peru for the past 15 years. Her films include The Devil Operation. guarango.org/diablo
Ali Ferzat is a renowned Syrian political cartoonist who has had more than 15,000 caricatures published. He is also the head of the Arab Cartoonists’ Association.
Manzoor Ali writes for the Express Tribune in Pakistan. He has also contributed to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the New America Foundation.
Coming next month...
Rio+20 – who owns the green economy? Twenty years ago the world met in Rio to save the planet – with mixed results. Next month sees a major re-gathering – ‘Rio+20: UN Conference on Sustainable Development’ – which might decide a new course. The event is set to be heated and contentious. On the one side, corporations and the UN will be pushing a new ‘Green Economy’ agenda that emphasizes economic growth, technology and market-based approaches. On the other, indigenous groups and many NGOs from both North and South will be promoting a humanand nature-rights agenda that calls for a radical shift away from privatizing and commodifying the natural environment and towards protecting the global commons.
What are we to make of it all? Next month’s New Internationalist guides us through the thicket.
It also features – Eight Great Greenwashers. Which corporations and institutions are best at twisting the eco-agenda to boost their profits?
N ew I n t e r nat i o nal i s t ● MAY 2 012 ● 3