never married, over forty, a little bitter


Here we have a person who has been marginally employed for two years and suffers physical pain 24 hours a day—and rather than demanding something better for herself, she demands that other people suffer more!

Vicious and unhinged discourse is widespread on the Internet, but this example is worth noting because the sentiment it expresses is by no means unique. This attitude—a petty and mean-spirited resentment—is depressingly common even among the working class. It sometimes seems to amount to no more than the sentiment that justice consists in everyone else being at least as miserable as you are. At one level, it’s an attitude that reflects diminished expectations, and can be partly blamed on the weakness of the Left and the defeat of its historical project: when you don’t believe any positive social change is possible, there’s little left to fall back on but bitterness and resentment.

This resentment is also at the heart of a lot of hating on “hipsters.” People see others whom they perceive to have lives that are easier, cooler or more fun than theirs, and instead of questioning the society that gave them their lot, they demand conformity and misery out of others. But why? The false (but not without a grain of truth!) intimation that hipsters are all white kids who are subsidized by their rich parents legitimizes this position, but even if it were accurate it wouldn’t make the attitude of contempt any more sensible. For even if creative and enjoyable lives are only accessible to the privileged, that’s not a damning fact about them so much as it is an indictment of a society that has so much wealth and yet only allows a select few to take advantage of it, while others are forced to waste their lives chained to their useless jobs and bloated mortgages.

– See more at:


We live in a culture that is completely mediated and artificial, rendering us (me, anyway; you, too?) exceedingly distracted, bored, and numb. Straightforward fiction functions only as more Bubble Wrap, nostalgia, retreat. Why is the traditional novel c. 2013 no longer germane (and the postmodern novel shroud upon shroud)? Most novels’ glacial pace isn’t remotely congruent with the speed of our lives and our consciousness of these lives. Most novels’ explorations of human behavior still owe far more to Freudian psychology than they do to cognitive science and DNA. Most novels treat setting as if where people now live matters as much to us as it did to Balzac. Most novels frame their key moments as a series of filmable moments straight out of Hitchcock. And above all, the tidy coherence of most novels– highly praised ones in particular– implies a belief in an orchestrating deity, or at least a purposeful meaning to existence that the author is unlikely to possess, and belies the chaos and entropy that surround and inhabit and overwhelm us. I want work that, possessing as thin a membrane as possible between life and art, foregrounds the question of how the writer solves being alive.

— David Shields, How Literature Saved My Life, pp. 196-197.


One of the reasons that I set out to research and write The Last Best Cure is that the numbers of Americans with chronic conditions has been escalating so fast it’s frightening. Today in the United States, 133 million Americans – one out of two adults — suffer from at least one chronic condition. These include back pain, irritable bowel and digestive disorders, arthritic conditions, migraines, thyroid disease, autoimmune diseases, depression and mood disorders, cancer, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic pain. Experts predict that these numbers, which have been rising steadily by more than one percent a year, will rise 37% by 2030.

And most of us are women. We’re more likely than men to suffer from migraines and lower pack pain, twice as likely to suffer from depression, irritable bowel disease and arthritis. And women are three times more likely than men to suffer from autoimmune diseases including lupus, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disorders. Ninety percent of fibromyalgia sufferers are women. And women are more likely to suffer from a compilation of chronic conditions than are men. Lupus and migraines. Back pain and fibromyalgia and irritable bowel.

We may tell ourselves that Americans are getting sicker simply because we’re living so much longer. But a new study tells us that’s not the case. Americans of all ages up to the age of 75 live shorter lives and experience more chronic illness during their lives than in other countries. In fact, a recent study — a 378-page report convened by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences — shows that not only do Americans have a lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than most high-income countries, we are less healthy throughout our lives than citizens of 16 other wealthy nations.

And every year Americans are becoming less healthy than our counterparts in peer nations around the globe. The U.S. is experiencing a large and widening “mortality gap” among adults over 50 compared with other high-income nations. “What struck us — and it was quite sobering — was the recurring trend in which the U.S. seems to be slipping behind other high-income countries,” says lead author of the report, Dr. Steven Woolf.

We might think that this is due to gun violence, or poverty. But that’s not the case. Even Americans who possess good health insurance, are college-educated and are in upper-income brackets are in worse health than their counterparts around the world — a finding that no one quite comprehends. Woolf puts it this way, “People with seemingly everything going for them still live shorter lives and have higher disease rates than people in other countries.”

I wrote The Last Best Cure for every person who suffers from chronic conditions. We’re chronically ill and we’re getting more chronically ill as a country every minute. I wrote a great deal about why I think that’s the case in my last book, The Autoimmune Epidemic.

The Last Best Cure: My Quest to Activate the Healing Areas of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy and My Life is the natural progression after The Autoimmune Epidemic. It’s about participating in a reversal trend, to reclaim good and healthy lives. As a country, as people, as individuals. Isn’t it time?

the bombardment

Bell’s main argument is that these women are bombarded with “vying cultural” messages: “Be assertive, but not aggressive. Be feminine, but not too passive. Be sexually adventurous, but don’t alienate men with your sexual prowess” — and so on. At the same time that they are encouraged to “live it up,” they “spend their twenties hearing gloomy forecasts about their chances of marriage if they don’t marry before thirty, and their chances of conceiving a baby if they don’t get pregnant before thirty-five.”


Recently, I sat at a conference on women’s health issues, where we discussed chronic diseases with noted physicians in a variety of fields. “Walk into any of our waiting rooms and it’s full of women in their thirties, forties, and fifties,” said the director of one clinic. “The American woman in her prime is our prime patient; she’s the walking wounded of our day.” Around the table, a dozen heads nodded yes.

The walking wounded of our day.

–Donna Jackson Nakazawa, The Last Best Cure: My Quest to Awaken the Healing Parts of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy, and My Life, p. xvi