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How to live well

What is “wellness”? Is it a new-fangled concept or one with ancient roots? Is this generation the first to positively describe a state of wellness, as opposed to simply not being ill? And how can we achieve wellness, rather than simply avoiding the various pitfalls and disasters that lie in our paths? For all the…

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Age old wisdom in rhythm

Geriatricians always make me uneasy; the uneasiness being a mixture of respect and awe. They know too much, not just the scientific stuff, they also seem to know a lot about the past, coolly assess the present and,this being the spooky bit, divine the future. It is not enough to cure the presenting complaint and…

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The life of one of Ireland’s foremost psychiatrists

I always flick through the pages of a new book in search of an eye-catching phrase and I quickly found this zinger: as a schoolboy Anthony Clare made “…occasional trips to Northern Ireland where he acquired a taste for Bounty bars…”. Raised in Northern Ireland, where I too acquired a taste for Bounty bars, here…

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How we talk about illness

Title: The Language of Illness Author: Fergus Shanahan Publisher: Liberties Press (2020)Reviewer: Prof Brendan Kelly The practice of medicine is a largely narrative endeavour. People come to doctors with a dizzying array of problems, symptoms, worries, and fears. Each person tells their story. We listen. We try to understand their narrative and see how it…

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The great fraud of Andrew Wakefield

At the outset I should declare some potential conflicts of interest. I have long been a proponent of immunisation. I have chaired the national immunisation advisory committee at the RCPI. I have run a so-called ‘high-risk’ vaccination clinic at Children’s Hospital Temple Street for concerned parents and general practitioners over several years during the MMR…

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How to stop worrying about the end of the world

TITLE: Notes from An Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back AUTHOR: Mark O’Connell PUBLISHER: Granta Publications (2020) REVIEWER: Prof Brendan Kelly The Covid-19 pandemic changed everything. Or did it? There is no doubt that the outbreak, which started in China in late 2019, turned our world upside down within…

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Reflections of a Nobel laureate

Title: Catching the worm: Towards ending river blindness and reflections on my life Author: Prof William C Campbell, with Claire O’Connell Publisher: Royal Irish Academy Reviewer: Prof Seamus O’Mahony Prof William Cecil Campbell is the only Irishman to have been awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. He and Satoshi Ōmura shared the award…

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The charm of the fictional psychopath

Title: ‘Psychopath? Why We Are Charmed by the Anti-Hero’ Author: Dr Stephen McWilliams Publisher: Mercier Press 2020 Reviewer: Prof Brendan Kelly In real life, psychopaths commonly leave a trail of terrible destruction in their wake: Emotional chaos, financial ruin and – in the worst cases – the obliteration of innocent lives. In fiction and film,…

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