Dr. Charles Krauthammer- a physician to know

To call Dr. Charles Krauthammer an opinion writer is a vast understatement. He is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who writes for  The Washington Post and a commentator for Fox News.

With wit and wisdom he addresses a wide variety of headlining topics, as well as some more mundane, including politics, economics,education, relationships and  lifestyle. His previous background as a practicing psychiatrist qualifies him to comment on medical issues with experience and insight.

As a physician, I find it intriguing and inspiring  that Dr. Krauthammer completed medical school and residency after and despite sustaining a spinal cord injury which caused quadriplegia (paralysis from the neck down, preventing use of his arms and legs).

Here are excerpts from a sampling of his recent articles that deal with medical topics;  I encourage you to read them in their entirety.

 

After watching videos in which

 The price of fetal parts

was discussed over lunch, Dr. Krauthammer wrote this-

 

“Abortion critics have long warned that the problem is not only the obvious — what abortion does to the fetus — but also what it does to us. It’s the same kind of desensitization that has occurred in the Netherlands with another mass exercise in life termination: assisted suicide. It began as a way to prevent the suffering of the terminally ill. It has now become so widespread and wanton that one-fifth of all Dutch assisted-suicide patients are euthanized without their explicit consent.

There is more division about the first trimester because one’s views of the early embryo are largely a matter of belief, often religious belief. One’s view of the later-term fetus, however, is more a matter of what might be called sympathetic identification — seeing the image of a recognizable human infant and, now, hearing from the experts exactly what it takes to “terminate” its existence.

The role of democratic politics is to turn such moral sensibilities into law. This is a moment to press relentlessly for a national ban on late-term abortions.”

 

After

Another massacre, another charade 

 he had this to say about guns and laws about them.

 

“So with the Roseburg massacre in Oregon. Within hours, President Obama takes to the microphones to furiously denounce the National Rifle Association and its ilk for resisting “common-sense gun-safety laws.” His harangue is totally sincere, totally knee-jerk and totally pointless. At the time he delivers it, he — and we — know practically nothing about the shooter, nothing about the weapons, nothing about how they were obtained.

In the final quarter of his presidency, Obama can very well say what he wants. If he believes in Australian-style confiscation — i.e., abolishing the Second Amendment — why not spell it out? Until he does, he should stop demonizing people for not doing what he won’t even propose.”

 

 

 

cup of milk, plate of bread

In this tongue-in-cheek (pardon the pun)  post

 Food fads: Make mine gluten-full

he “preaches skepticism” about most current dietary advice.

“Exhibit A for medical skepticism, however, remains vitamin C. When Linus Pauling, Nobel laureate in chemistry (not nutrition), began the vitamin-C megadose fad to fend off all manner of disease, the whole thing struck me as bizarre. Yes, you need some C to prevent scurvy if you’re seven months at sea with Capt. Cook and citrus is nowhere to be found. Otherwise, the megadose is a crock. Evolution is pretty clever. For 2 million years it made sure Homo erectus, neanderthalensis, sapiens, what have you, got his daily dose without having to visit a GNC store.

Sure enough, that fashion came and went. But there are always new windmills to be tilted at. The latest is gluten.

Now, if you suffer from celiac disease, you need a gluten-free diet. How many of us is that? Less than 1 percent. And yet supermarket shelves are groaning with products proclaiming their gluten-freedom. Sales are going through the roof.”

 

 

 

I enjoyed reading THINGS THAT MATTER by Dr. Krauthammer.

His book is a collection of some of his more memorable opinion pieces as well as a memoir of his life, including medical school, his life-changing injury, psychiatric medical practice, his  journalism career, hobbies (chess and baseball) and life with his family. According to Amazon-

” Now, finally, the best of Krauthammer’s intelligence, erudition and wit are collected in one volume.”

 

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Dr. Bonhoeffer and a visit to Berlin- Tuesday Travels

 

I feel an instant connection whenever I meet another physician or someone related to a physician.  You will recognize it as the way you feel when you meet someone from your hometown, or high school, or previous job, after being away a long time.

People who share a common bond  with you best understand where you’re coming from, what you’ve been through, and what it’s like being you .

My patients who have physician relatives tend to be the most respectful of my knowledge, time, and privacy.  Anytime a physician’s  relative asks me a medical question in a social setting, I know it’s something important.

Many well-known people, past and present, come from physician families and I discovered one in my reading recently. About that time my son returned from a trip to Germany and posted beautiful photos online. Those two discoveries provided the idea for this blog post.

ornate building in Berlin

 

 

Dr. Bonhoeffer, psychiatrist

Dr. Karl Bonhoeffer started a medical practice in 1893 in what is now Wroclaw Poland, where he met and married his wife Paula Von Hase. He was a neurologist/psychiatrist at a time when both of those specialties were young. They had 8 children, including a set of boy/girl twins.

In 1912 they moved to Berlin where he was appointed head of psychiatry at Charite Hospital. There he taught and conducted research in brain disease; he worked with Dr. Carl Wernicke who became famous himself, having a disorder named after him- Wernicke encephalopathy, a brain disease caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, usually due to long term alcoholism. His name is also assigned to an area of the brain which helps us understand and produce meaningful speech, Wernicke center.

Dr. Bonhoeffer had two other famous physician colleagues- Dr.Sigmund Freud and Dr. Carl Jung.

One of the Bonhoeffers’ sons became a physicist, another a linguist (before dying in military service in the war), another entered law school. But the fourth son, brother to the twin girl, chose a different path, one his family did not heartily approve of. That son, Dietrich, pursued theology, a choice that would ultimately determine his unfortunate fate.

 

Reverend Bonhoeffer, theologian and pastor

Dietrich Bonhoeffer first attended Tubingen University and finished at Humboldt University. He traveled extensively abroad, including the United States and India and returned to Germany to serve the Church as pastor and preacher. He may have passed his life quietly in Christian service and scholarly pursuits had it not been for the rise of Nazism in Germany and the resulting  second world war.

Humboldt University, Berlin ,Germany

Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

 

Bonhoeffer believed that Germany’s political and military goals were not compatible with Christian beliefs, so he clandestinely entered the resistance movement, including working as a confidential agent of military intelligence. He helped Jews escape Germany. He also was aware of and possibly  involved in plots to assassinate Hitler.

The burned books memorial in Berlin

memorial to burned books in Berlin

 

 

 

 

Reverend Bonhoeffer, the martyr

Unfortunately, he eventually came under suspicion and was arrested. After 18 months in a prison, he was transferred to a concentration camp where he was sentenced to death.

On April 9, 1945 he was executed by hanging, and his body was cremated. He was 39 years old. His brother Klaus and two brothers-in-law were also executed by the Nazis for their involvement in the resistance. Their father, Dr. Bonhoeffer, died in Berlin in 1948.

 

 

Fortunately, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s prolific writing survived and inspires us  to live the way he did. Writing in Bonhoeffer for Armchair Theologians, the authors quote the concentration camp doctor  saying about him,

“I was most deeply moved by the way this unusually lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. In my fifty years …as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

BONHOEFFER for Armchair Theologians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few quotes from his many books and sermons which were published both before and after his death.

 

 

 

“God wants to lead us. Not all the ways of humans are God’s leading. For a long time we can walk our own paths. On those we are pawns of coincidence, whether they bring good luck or misfortune. Our own ways always lead in a circle back to ourselves. But when God leads our ways, they guide us to him. God’s ways guide us to God. God leads us through happiness and unhappiness always and only towards God. In this we recognize god’s way.”

The mystery of Easter.

 

 

 

 

“Do and dare what is right not swayed by the whim of the moment. Bravely take hold of the real not dallying now with what might be. Not in the flight of ideas but only in action is freedom. Make up your mind and come out into the tempest of living. God’s command is enough and your faith in him to sustain you. Then at last freedom will welcome your spirit among great rejoicing.”

Ethics

 

 

One of many murals on the east Berlin Wall

One of many murals on the east Berlin Wall

“To go one’s way under the sign of the cross is not misery and desperation, but peace and refreshment for the soul ,it is the highest joy”

The Cost of Discipleship

church in Berlin

 

 

Photos used courtesy of Ryan Oglesby 

 

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with my regards, Dr. Aletha WATERCRESSWORDS.COM-exploring the HEART of health