Listening to the sumptuous splendour of the concertos he wrote for the piano, or the simple beauty of the melodic line that tows his Vocalise into every music lover’s heart, you’d imagine that Sergei Rachmaninoff was somebody like Mendelssohn – equipped with a silver spoon from the start, all set to sail through a life untroubled.
In some respects, yes, but in others, the comparison falls quickly away.
Just like Mendelssohn, whose extended family owned a bank, Rachmaninoff (who favoured this spelling as opposed to “Rachmaninov”) was born into prosperity.
His father was an officer in the Imperial Guard whose own father had had piano lessons from none other than that Irishman abroad John Field, inventor of the Nocturne.
Sergei’s mother was the daughter of a wealthy army general whose dowry included no fewer than five country estates.
The Mendelssohns managed money well. Things were rather different for the Rachmaninoffs.
The old boy was rather too fond of playing the high roller – a gambler and a womaniser, with a fondness for the hard stuff.
One by one, the estates had to be sold off, and the family ended up in modest surroundings in a cramped apartment in St Petersburg.
Sergei survived an outbreak of diphtheria which took the life of an elder sister. Another also died in childhood.
He needed a scholarship to get into the Conservatory in Moscow. Things were so tight he had to live in his teacher’s apartment.
Though he was a star student, misfortune seems to have had a way of dogging him wherever he turned. It was always a case of one step forward and two steps back.
Despite a bright start to his composing career – a first piano concerto written at the age of 17 placed him on a path of musical excellence – what should have been the crowning glory of his early years became a millstone round his neck.
His first symphony was eagerly awaited, and would be unveiled in St Petersburg. The highly respected composer Alexander Glazunov – a favourite of Rachmaninoff – was engaged to conduct the premiere. This was a mistake.
Glazunov didn’t rate the music, couldn’t be bothered to rehearse the orchestra properly, and when he took to the podium on the night, he’d obviously had one, if not two, too many.
The performance was a disaster, the reviews damning. Rachmaninoff, just about to turn 24, was devastated.
The symphony was never performed again in his lifetime. He couldn’t think about writing anything else.
He continued on the concert stage as a pianist – he was quite brilliant, with a prodigious hand span, renowned for the clarity of his playing – and turned his hand to conducting. But as far as composing was concerned, that was that.
At the urging of his wife, he eventually underwent hypnosis. That cured his writer’s block.
He returned in triumph with the breathtaking Piano Concerto No.3, performing it for the first time on a Sunday afternoon in New York in 1909.
Sergei Rachmaninoff was tall and slim, by all accounts a man whose successes weren’t reflected in his demeanour. His contemporary, Igor Stravinsky, famously referred to him as a six-and-a-half foot scowl.
But for a man who never got over his homesickness for Russia, any melancholy would have had a sound basis.
Driven out by the Revolution in 1917, he eventually found peace and creative space on the shores of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland.
He and his wife built their idyll there, a villa called ‘Senar’, abbreviations of their names, Sergei and Natalia, together with the “R” from Rachmaninoff.
With World War II looming, they couldn’t stay, and left in August 1939, never to return.
Sergei Rachmaninoff died in California in 1943, just days before his 70th birthday.
AN INDONESIAN housewife, Herlinawati, 53, was close to becoming a victim of hypnosis in Sukmajaya, a sub-district in Depok, West Java, Indonesia last Thursday.
Three men, who claimed to be from Brunei Darussalam, allegedly approached the woman and tried to hypnotise her by patting her back, Indonesian newspapers reported.
In describing the incident, Herlinawati said she was approached by the perpetrators as she was on her way home.
In the blink of an eye, her back was tapped and in a state of subconsciousness she followed the men into a car.
“Inside the car, the perpetrators said they were from Brunei and wanted to exchange some foreign currencies into Indonesian Rupiah.
“They also claimed that they could double whatever money she owns,” Sukmajaya Police Chief Bronet Kompol said.
Duped by the perpetrators, Herlinawati unknowingly surrendered two gold rings and a watch she was wearing.
“Upon doing so, the perpetrators promised that her belongings would be returned if she gave them the rest of her jewelleries kept at home. The victim was then driven to her house,” Bronet said.
Fortunately the plan failed when the hypnotic trance on Herlinawati disappeared as soon as one of her children patted her back.
“She awoke and screamed. The three men tried to escape. Members of the Public Unit of Indonesian National Police in the area arrested and brought them to a security post,” the police chief added.
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BARCELONA — More patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) reported relief of pain and discomfort after hypnotherapy than after education and supportive care, interim results from a randomized controlled trial conducted at 13 centers indicate.
Most evidence supporting hypnotherapy for IBS in the literature involves highly specialized therapists at secondary and tertiary care centers delivering 10 sessions or more of therapy, said investigator Catharina Flik, MD, from University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.
“I’m interested in demonstrating its effectiveness in a broader perspective — primary care, for example,” she said here at United European Gastroenterology Week 2017.
In their ongoing 1-year study, Dr Flik and her colleagues are assessing the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
Hypnotherapy imbues a sense of control and self-efficacy in patients, Dr Flik explained. It changes their cognitions, allowing them to be more open to suggestion from a therapist and increasing their control over autonomic body processes such as how they process pain in the brain and the spine.
The bidirectional pathway between the brain and gut and the evidence supporting the influence of hypnotherapy on gastrointestinal health were recently described in a Medscape Perspective interview with Laurie Keefer, PhD, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
Of the 354 patients who were referred by primary care doctors and hospital specialists, 150 attended six biweekly sessions of individual hypnotherapy, 150 attended six biweekly sessions of group hypnotherapy, and 54 received education and supportive care with an audio CD.
Patients were asked: In the past 7 days, have you had adequate relief of your IBS pain and discomfort? Those who answered yes at least 3 of every 4 weeks were considered responders.
At 3 months, adequate relief of pain and discomfort was reported by more patients who received individual hypnotherapy and group hypnotherapy than those who received education and supportive care (40% vs 34% vs 17%; P = .041).
Although the rates reported for the two hypnotherapy types were slightly different, group hypnotherapy was, in fact, noninferior to individual hypnotherapy.
Patients will be followed up for 9 months after the end of treatment.
Similar Study in Sweden
Similar conclusions were reached in a randomized controlled trial of 108 patients with IBS symptoms refractory to standard treatment conducted in Sweden, also presented at the meeting.
Patients were randomized to attend eight 1-hour sessions of hypnotherapy either individually (n = 51) or in groups of six to eight people (n = 57). All subtypes of IBS were represented in the study cohort, said investigator Jenny Lövdahl, RN, from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
At baseline, about two-thirds of participants reported severe IBS, assessed with the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Severity Scoring System (IBS-SSS). Responders were defined as people who experienced a reduction of at least 50 points in the IBS-SSS score.
After 12 weeks of gut-directed hypnotherapy, administered by Lövdahl, response rates in the individual sessions were not significantly different from those in the group sessions (69% vs 57%; P = .018), again suggesting noninferiority.
Pain intensity, pain frequency, bloating severity, bowel habit dissatisfaction, and daily life interference associated with IBS were all significantly better after treatment.
“There were clear improvements in IBS symptoms after 12 weeks of hypnotherapy,” Lövdahl reported. “And in a between-group comparison, we could not see any differences.”
In addition, on the Short Health Scale questionnaire — used to assess the subjective health of the participants — “we could see clear improvements, with no significant difference between groups,” she added.
“In the future, we want to look for predictors of response to find the most appropriate treatment for each patient,” she noted.
Group sessions might be an effective way to deliver IBS hypnotherapy to more patients at a lower cost, Lövdahl said.
The group approach appears feasible, even if some patients need convincing. “A lot of patients felt, beforehand, that they would not like hypnotherapy in a group,” said Dr Flik. However, acceptance improved with education, and “afterward, they were very glad to have been in the group.”
“Very Good, Rigorously Designed Trials”
“The studies are quite practical. The nice thing is that they were conducted in different settings but had almost the same research question,” said session comoderator Daniel Keszthelyi, MD, PhD, from Maastricht University in the Netherlands
“They are really very good, rigorously designed trials,” he told Medscape Medical News.
There are common misconceptions about hypnotherapy. “Some patients might think it’s Voodoo,” he explained, adding that the “same thing goes for physicians.”
“When I see patients with IBS, I discuss all drug options and psychological therapies at the same time,” so medication and hypnotherapy strategies are presented as equally effective, he added.
“Hypnotherapy, in general, is something that is really, really helping patients,” Dr Keszthelyi said.
He reported that he is planning to evaluate an online version of hypnotherapy for individuals and groups (conducted over Skype, for example). One goal is to compare the practicality of online and traditional hypnotherapy.
The presenters were both asked by members of the audience what was covered in each treatment session.
“We did only hypnotherapy,” Dr Flik said. “That’s one difference between our results and other studies with group hypnotherapy, because they also do some education and discussion in groups.”
“Our focus was hypnotherapy,” Lövdahl reported. “In some groups, there was a little time left and patients started discussing their symptoms among themselves. That might have helped patients in those groups, but it was not something we directed them to do.”
Session comoderator Philippe Van Hootegem, MD, from AZ Saint Lucas in Ghent, Belgium, asked Dr Flik how responsive the patients were.
“About 10% of the whole population was not hypnotizable, 80% were good enough for the exercises, and 10% were very good and able to concentrate and go to another level,” Dr Flik reported.
Dr Flik and Ms Lövdahl have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
Hypnotherapy, in general, is something that is really, really helping patients.
United European Gastroenterology (UEG) Week 2017: Abstracts OP281 and OP282. Presented October 31, 2017.
Declassified documents from the 1970s have revealed the US government were certain the Soviet Union had mastered telepathy, hypnosis and dream infiltration, a la Hollywood blockbuster Inception.
A recently declassified Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report documents the numerous ways the US government believed the Soviet Union could attack or influence small groups of people via paranormal means.
Published in 1972, “Controlled Offensive Behavior” details apparent Soviet advances in telepathy, dream infiltration and hypnosis.
“There have been persistent reports of unusual flashing lights emanating from Soviet naval vessels and long-range aircraft. Such activities have coincided with US and NATO surveillance operations, conducted from interceptor aircraft and naval vessels. In some cases, personnel have been temporarily blinded and disorientated by various intensities of colors of continuous or intermittently flashing lights during nocturnal missions,” the report stated.
The authors go on to suggest such incidents indicate the Soviets “have not overlooked the possibility of utilizing bright, flashing lights as a means of altering behavior,” and it was “interesting to note” these reports coincide with an alleged period of active research into mind control in Soviet laboratories.
One such incident in 1968 involved a night watch officer aboard the HMS Valiant being temporarily blinded by a blue light shone from a Kotlin destroyer.
“When his vision recovered, he reported perceiving red lights, [which] appeared to be portable. Several pinpoint bursts of amber and amber-green light were noticed aft of the spotlight and shined in concert with it,” the report added.
The use of colorful, flashing lights to distract or disorient targets has a long-established history in warfare — strobe lights were commonly employed by Axis and Allied militaries alike to blind enemy pilots.Strange but True
However, the report connects the disorientation of targets to hypnosis and other forms of mind control, rather than conclude the events were basic surveillance disruption methods, in a subsection titled “Psycho-optics.”
“The Soviets have already experimented with the use of flashing lights for the purpose of eliciting behavioral change in human targets, [and the] interactions of sound, light, and olfactory stimuli in humans. It can now be assessed that in the next 15 years, [the Soviet Union] may develop a system that alters behavior by combining two or more systems to mask the use of the principal weapon, e.g. the administration of a pheromone or psychotropic compound,” the report alleged.
The authors note a 1957 symposium in the US concluded strobe lights and other flicker effects can create disruptions in humans, inducing “sleep, unconsciousness, hypnotic states, or other forms of interference with consciousness.” Other possible effects of flickering lights included eyeball and headaches, and inducement of “visual illusions” including color sensations, patterns of movement and development of odd shapes.”The report moreover suggested the Soviets’ primary interest was red light, a hue that would reportedly produce tension, irritability, and aggression — and presumably a greater affinity for communism.
Perhaps most notably, a separate excerpt outlines the DIA’s fears of Soviet psychic abilities — in particular “telepathic hypnosis,” which allegedly allowed the USSR to telepathically induce sleep in individuals and then rouse them from over 1,000 miles away. “K.O. Kotkov” — allegedly a star Soviet psychologist — was particularly intimidating to US authorities, given his apparently ability to “telepathically obliterate an experimental subject’s consciousness.”
Parapsychologists in Leningrad and Moscow were said to be involved in the telepathic manipulation of consciousness, and the authors ask what individuals might experience in their Soviet-induced sleep — would they “simply dream their own private dreams,” or “does someone else hold sway?””The Soviets have not divulged details of their manipulation of consciousness. Doctor Stefan Manczarski feels telepathy can be amplified like radio waves. Telepathy could then become a subtle new modus for the ‘influencers’ of the world. What about telepathy someday becoming a tool for influencing people?
“This new field of telepathy will open up new avenues for spreading propaganda, and one could telepathically hypnotize an individual [to] steal classified documents or detonate important military equipment. The mission is accomplished and individual does not even know they have done anything,” the report speculated.
Source : sputnik news
According to a new study published in Environmental Science and Technology, researchers found evidence of fluorinated compounds in fast food packaging materials, including hamburger and sandwich wrappers, pastry bags, beverage cups and French fry containers.
The compounds, called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), were found in 56-percent of dessert and bread wrappers, 38-percent of sandwich and burger wrappers and 20-percent of paperboard (the same kind used for sandwich, taco and French fry boxes). These same chemicals are found in stain-resistant products, firefighter materials and nonstick cookware.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are highly persistent synthetic chemicals, some of which have been associated with cancer, developmental toxicity, immunotoxicity, and other health effects. PFASs in grease-resistant food packaging can leach into food and increase dietary exposure. Researchers collected ∼400 samples of food contact papers, paperboard containers, and beverage containers from fast food restaurants throughout the United States and measured total fluorine using particle-induced γ-ray emission (PIGE) spectroscopy. PIGE can rapidly and inexpensively measure total fluorine in solid-phase samples. Researchers found that 46% of food contact papers and 20% of paperboard samples contained detectable fluorine (>16 nmol/cm2). Liquid chromatography/high-resolution mass spectrometry analysis of a subset of 20 samples found perfluorocarboxylates, perfluorosulfonates, and other known PFASs and/or unidentified polyfluorinated compounds (based on nontargeted analysis). The total peak area for PFASs was higher in 70% of samples (10 of 14) with a total fluorine level of >200 nmol/cm2 compared to six samples with a total fluorine level of <16 nmol/cm2. Samples with high total fluorine levels but low levels of measured PFASs may contain volatile PFASs, PFAS polymers, newer replacement PFASs, or other fluorinated compounds. The prevalence of fluorinated chemicals in fast food packaging demonstrates their potentially significant contribution to dietary PFAS exposure and environmental contamination during production and disposal. (via Fluorinated Compounds in U.S. Fast Food Packaging, Environmental Science & Technology Letters)
According to a news release from Science Daily, previous studies have shown that these PFASs can contaminate the food and when consumed, accumulating in the body.
“This is a really persistent chemical,” said Graham Peaslee, a professor of experimental nuclear physics in the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame, who tested 407 samples of packaging material.
Total F concentrations (in nanomoles of F per square centimeter) based on PIGE analyses of fast food packaging samples. Only samples with concentrations of total F above the LOD (16 nmol of F/cm2) are plotted. Concentrations between the LOD and LOQ (50 nmol of F/cm2) are considered estimated. (via Fluorinated Compounds in U.S. Fast Food Packaging, Environmental Science & Technology Letters)
“It gets in the bloodstream, it stays there and accumulates. There are diseases that correlate to it, so we really don’t want this class of chemicals out there.”
Science Daily says PFASs have been previously linked to kidney and testicular cancers, thyroid disease, low birth weight and immunotoxicity in children, among other health issues. The chemicals take many years before just 50 percent of the intake leaves the human body.
“These chemicals don’t biodegrade. They don’t naturally degrade. They persist in the environment for a very long time,” Peaslee said.
The results are considerably concerning when taking in account the role fast food plays the average American diet. The National Center for Health Statistics reported one-third of U.S. children consume fast food daily.
Samples were collected from a total of 27 fast food restaurant chains including McDonald’s, Burger King, Chipotle, Starbucks, Jimmy Johns, Panera and Chick-Fil-A, in and around Grand Rapids, as well as Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C. The study did not include takeout containers, such as Chinese food boxes or pizza boxes.
Researchers reached out each of the fast food chains that had been included in the study to see if they were aware of the chemicals used in the production of the packaging. Only two responded, both stating they believed their packaging was free of PFASs — one going as far as to say that it had received verification from it’s supplier, although test results show both had tested positive for a “substantial amount” of chemicals.
“This is a wake-up call for those companies and the consumers,” Peaslee said.
Those involved in the study are hopeful the results will encourage fast food restaurants to choose nontoxic alternatives such as plastic coatings, aluminum foil or wax paper.
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