just say “no” to mandrake and henbane


The Legacy of Atro­pos, the Fate Who Cut the Thread of Life by Robert S. Holz­man, MD at the jour­nal of Anes­the­si­ol­ogy

In De Praes­tigiis Dae­monum, which Freud called one of the 10 most sig­nif­i­cant books of all time, Johann Weyer (15151588 CE) con­cluded hen­bane was a prin­ci­pal ingre­di­ent of witches’ brew, along with deadly night­shade and man­drake. [31] Accord­ing to Weyer, there were other oint­ments, but the essen­tial ingre­di­ents remained the same in all. The prepa­ra­tions, when applied to the upper thighs or gen­i­tals, were said to induce the sen­sa­tion of ris­ing into the air of fly­ing. Witches were thought to anoint a chair or broom­stick with the devil’s oint­ment, and after self‐application, would fly through the air to meet for devil wor­ship at the sab­bat. Fran­cis Bacon (15611626 CE) observed that “… the witches them­selves are imag­i­na­tive, and believe often­times they do that, which they do not … trans­form­ing them­selves into other bod­ies … not by incan­ta­tions or cer­e­monies, but by oint­ments, and annoint­ing them­selves all over.”

In an exten­sive review of psy­chotropic plant oint­ments of the Renais­sance, Piomelli and Pol­lio exam­ined tran­scripts of witch­craft tri­als, writ­ings on demonology, and the botan­i­cal com­po­si­tion of oint­ments that alleged witches used on them­selves dur­ing the 15th and 16th cen­turies. Despite the dif­fi­culty with accu­rate iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the plants, the doc­u­ments reported con­sis­tent phar­ma­co­logic effects. Fur­ther, the bio­chem­i­cal logic of apply­ing these plants in a fat‐based unguent was sound, as it would pro­mote pas­sage of the alka­loids through the intact skin and mucosa. The use of soot (slightly alka­line) likely would enhance the pas­sage of organic bases because a weakly alka­line envi­ron­ment would be suf­fi­cient to neu­tral­ize the pos­i­tive ionic charge. That this is an effec­tive eth­nob­otan­i­cal tech­nique may be seen with Peru­vian coca chew­ers, who mix in their mouths the cocaine‐containing leaves with alka­line cin­ders to enhance uptake. There is even exper­i­men­tal evi­dence for believ­ing that a fatty base was used in these oint­ments; an oint­ment from the 13th or 14th cen­tury, found acci­den­tally, was sub­jected to chem­i­cal analy­sis and had an ani­mal fat con­tent of 40%.

rape as a tool of war in Syria

Why is the U.S. media ignor­ing rape in Syria? by Asma Mar­wan at Bul­letin of the Oppres­sion of Women by Soraya Chemaly at Salon

An Inter­na­tional Res­cue Com­mit­tee report issued in Jan­u­ary included sur­veys of Syr­i­ans in Lebanon and Jor­dan iden­ti­fy­ing “rape as a pri­mary rea­son their fam­i­lies fled the coun­try.” Less than two weeks ago, Erika Feller, assis­tant high com­mis­sioner for pro­tec­tion of the U.N. High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees, explained while report­ing to the Human Rights Coun­cil in Geneva, “This dis­place­ment is not only about loss of homes and eco­nomic secu­rity. It is also accom­pa­nied by gender-​based crimes, delib­er­ate vic­tim­iza­tion of women and chil­dren, and a fright­en­ing array of assaults on human dig­nity.” She specif­i­cally added, “Reports are reveal­ing that the con­flict in Syria is increas­ingly marked by rape and sex­ual vio­lence employed as a weapon of war to intim­i­date par­ties to the con­flict destroy­ing iden­tity, dig­nity and the social fab­rics of fam­i­lies and communities.”

Fatwa Says Jihadis Can Rape Non Sunni Syr­ian Women by Asma Mar­wan at Bul­letin of the Oppres­sion of Women

Yet another Islamic cleric recently made it per­mis­si­ble for the Islamic fight­ers wag­ing a jihad in Syria — politely known as “the oppo­si­tion” — to rape the nation’s women.

The legacy of silence: Why we ignore the rape of women from Guatemala to Syria by Lau­ren Wolfe at Women Under Siege

I’m sure if my hus­band knows he will divorce me the same day, the same hour,” one rape sur­vivor told a doc­tor work­ing in Amman whom I’ll call Dr. Meena.

From the sub­urbs of Homs, the sur­vivor, 23, was on her own with her daugh­ters in her house when shabiha (plain­clothes mili­tia) forces broke in at the end of last year. I’ve heard many sto­ries now in which rape appears to be used as a means to flush out men in home raids — in this case, the woman said there were no men home, think­ing the shabiha would leave with­out harm­ing her. She was wrong. Three of them raped her. Her daugh­ters were in the hall. They heard her scream­ing. She told Dr. Meena they thought she was just being beaten.

She didn’t tell any­one what hap­pened to her until she told the doc­tor in Decem­ber. Why not?

I am respon­si­ble,” this woman said.

Respon­si­ble for her own rape.

And we won­der why women aren’t clam­or­ing to show their faces.

For Every Woman In Every State, The Reversal of Abortion and Birth Control Rights Must Stop Now!

peti­tion from the Stop Patri­archy Coalition

Abor­tion is an issue that divides this coun­try. This is no acci­dent. How one thinks and feels about abor­tion flows fun­da­men­tally from how one views women.

We rec­og­nize that women are full human beings who must have the right – through unre­stricted and unstig­ma­tized access to birth con­trol and abor­tion – to decide for them­selves when and whether they will have chil­dren. We reject the view that a woman’s high­est pur­pose and fun­da­men­tal “duty” is to bear chil­dren, even those she does not want or can­not care for.

For decades, a move­ment which calls itself “pro-​life” has unleashed vio­lence against abor­tion providers, shamed and humil­i­ated women, and relent­lessly restricted access to abor­tion, espe­cially for poor women.

Over 80% of abor­tion clin­ics have expe­ri­enced vio­lence, threats, or harass­ment; eight doc­tors and staff have been mur­dered. Today, 97% of rural coun­ties have no abor­tion provider. One in four poor women who seeks an abor­tion can­not afford it and is forced to have a child she does not want. Five states have only one abor­tion clinic left…

… If this direc­tion is not reversed, women face being returned to the sit­u­a­tion that pre­vailed for mil­len­nia – until only very recently – being forced to sub­or­di­nate their dreams in order to have chil­dren against their will, or to risk their lives to avoid this. We are headed towards a sit­u­a­tion like that in El Sal­vador where women face long impris­on­ment for abor­tion and where nurses and doc­tors must either turn women in or risk being impris­oned themselves.

This assault on the right to choose abor­tion is not dri­ven by “con­cern for babies” or women. The fact is, this “pro-​life” move­ment stands unan­i­mous in its oppo­si­tion to birth con­trol and com­pre­hen­sive sex edu­ca­tion, the most effec­tive means of pre­vent­ing unwanted preg­nan­cies. Repub­li­can lead­ers in this move­ment have fanned hatred of women by sham­ing women who have sex, belit­tling the mon­strous crime of rape, and in other ways.

The truth is: Fetuses are NOT babies. Abor­tion is NOT mur­der. Women are NOT incubators…

…We must rely on our­selves. We call on peo­ple every­where to:

defend abor­tion providers who are under attack
speak openly and pos­i­tively about abor­tion, includ­ing their own
mobi­lize mass protest against every new attack wher­ever it takes place
Finally, and most impor­tantly, find the ways to come together to wage a deter­mined fight to defeat this entire war on women

This July and August, there will be an abor­tion rights car­a­van trav­el­ing across this coun­try to many places where attacks are most severe, includ­ing being in North Dakota on August 1st when new laws are set to go into effect that would crim­i­nal­ize abor­tion after six weeks and shut down the last clinic in the state. We sup­port this action as well as other efforts across the coun­try to defend abor­tion providers and defeat sim­i­lar laws in other states. We pledge to resist and call on all who care about free­dom, jus­tice, and women’s lives to do the same!

Forced moth­er­hood is female enslavement.

Abor­tion On Demand and With­out Apology!

black feminists and how white feminists can be their allies

Farah Tanis Black and White

The Tragedy of A Failed Politic by Farah Tanis, Kalima DeSuze, and Nikki Patin at Blackwomen’s Blue­print

We call on our white fem­i­nist sis­ters to fully inter­ro­gate their own insid­i­ous rela­tion­ship with power and to fully sur­vey the impact this rela­tion­ship has had on those of us who are three or four times removed from the cen­ter of power, like our Black girls. It is essen­tial that the white fem­i­nist move­ment con­sider the broader impli­ca­tions of the deci­sions they take, and the pri­or­i­ties they set in their work. In order to strengthen col­lab­o­ra­tion and rad­i­cal orga­niz­ing against racist and misog­y­nist attacks, these chal­lenges must be grap­pled with, even if full res­o­lu­tion is impossible.

Each of these chal­lenges requires a sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment of time and thought. The ques­tions are fun­da­men­tal, and the answers that we give them will shape the future of the broader move­ment, as well as help or hin­der progress towards end­ing pub­lic and pri­vate vio­lence against not only those most vul­ner­a­ble among us, but against all of us.

Finally, we offer this to our white fem­i­nist sis­ters — do your work with each other. Com­mit to hold­ing one another account­able so that this is the last time Black fem­i­nists have to retreat from the front­lines to do reme­dial work. Each time this move­ment has to edu­cate white fem­i­nists, reit­er­ate expec­ta­tions that have been shared across cen­turies, or mas­sage the ten­sion within our own Black bod­ies as a result of engag­ing in the same con­ver­sa­tion our fore­sisters did before us, we are sapped of energy and dis­tracted from the fight at our doorsteps. Please remem­ber, this is not a game for us. While we are all under attack, it looks dif­fer­ent for peo­ple of color, and par­tic­u­larly for peo­ple of African Descent. We have insuf­fi­cient resources to squan­der, and despite our real­iza­tion that these con­ver­sa­tions are nec­es­sary, con­tin­u­ous strate­gies towards rap­proche­ment have for a long time felt like an irre­spon­si­ble use of pre­cious time.

Half of all black girls sex­u­ally assaulted by Ter­rell Jer­maine Starr at NEWSONE

Why The Rape Joke Conversati​on Remains A White Conversati​on by Trudy at Gra­di­ent Lair

SLUTWALK AND WOMEN OF COLOR by the under­signed at Scis­sion

just like viagra” it ain’t


Lybrido for Low Libido? by the Neu­r­o­critic at the Neu­r­o­critic blog

Female Via­gra” is the way drugs like Lybrido and Lybri­dos tend to be dis­cussed. But this is a misconception.

Actu­ally, this is not a mis­con­cep­tion. Both drugs con­tain a major male sex hor­mone plus a sec­ond ingre­di­ent: Lybrido is testos­terone + silde­nafil (Via­gra), while Lybri­dos is testos­terone + bus­pirone (a sero­tonin 5-​HT1A recep­tor par­tial ago­nist). The two for­mu­la­tions are in clin­i­cal tri­als for vari­ants of HSDD iden­ti­fied by Emo­tional Brain researchers and described in a three part series pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Sex­ual Med­i­cine. These pilot stud­ies used the related PDE5 inhibitor, var­de­nafil (Lev­i­tra). PDE5 inhibitors are widely used to treat erec­tile dys­func­tion, so claims that Lybrido doesn’t affect phys­i­cal func­tion in women are disingenuous:

Via­gra med­dles with the arter­ies; it causes phys­i­cal shifts that allow the penis to rise. A female-​desire drug would be some­thing else. It would adjust the pri­mal and exec­u­tive regions of the brain. It would reach into the psyche.

Do Via­gra and testos­terone replace­ment ther­apy reach into the male psy­che? Hmm? I don’t think so.

DSM-​5 and diagnosing human pain and fear as a disease

800px-'In_Memoriam',_painting_by_Alfred_StevensIn Mem­o­rium
oil paint­ing
Alfred Stevens
between circa 1858 and circa 1861

When did life itself become a treat­able men­tal dis­or­der? by Patri­cia Pear­son at The Globe and Mail

It is a pecu­liar and reduc­tive logic about the nature of being human, this idea that grief – or stress, or binge­ing on pie – mer­its med­ical inter­ven­tion. And it is a logic that per­vades the DSM revi­sions, which is why the man­ual is prov­ing wildly con­tro­ver­sial on the eve of its unveiling.

Psy­chi­a­trists have resigned from the revi­sion work­ing groups to protest against var­i­ous cri­te­ria; open let­ters have been penned by the British Psy­cho­log­i­cal Soci­ety, and the Amer­i­can Soci­ety for Human­is­tic Psy­chol­ogy; peti­tions have been signed by thou­sands of mental-​health prac­ti­tion­ers; boy­cotts are being planned in both North Amer­ica and Europe. “I will not buy DSM-​5. I will not use it. I will not teach it,” psy­chi­a­trist Patrick Land­man, of Uni­ver­sité de Paris VII, declared in Psy­chol­ogy Today, where sev­eral pro­fes­sion­als have taken to voic­ing their fierce oppo­si­tion with ongo­ing blogs…

… As the man­ual grows (the orig­i­nal had 95 men­tal dis­or­ders; the last edi­tion, 283), they argue that it low­ers so many thresh­olds for being diag­nosed with minor men­tal ill­nesses that life, itself, becomes treat­able as disease.

The pro­posed revi­sions to Gen­er­al­ized Anx­i­ety Dis­or­der, for instance, drop the bar prac­ti­cally to the level of being wor­ried about your job and hav­ing mus­cle ten­sion. You need to have one of four symp­toms, accord­ing to psy­chi­a­trists who have seen the draft, and be wor­ry­ing “exces­sively” about at least two areas of your life. Your job and your finances, say. How wor­ried is too wor­ried? What is wrong with waves of dread when your bank account dwin­dles to zero?

Allen Frances, a U.S. psy­chi­a­trist and pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at Duke Uni­ver­sity who over­saw the pre­vi­ous DSM revi­sions in 1994, calls this “a trav­esty of care­less sug­ges­tions that will likely turn our cur­rent diag­nos­tic infla­tion into hyperinflation.”

One of the most decried DSM revi­sions involves the intro­duc­tion of “Somatic Symp­tom Dis­or­der,” which will be diag­nosed in a patient who dis­plays “exces­sive and dis­pro­por­tion­ate thoughts, feel­ings and behav­iours” in rela­tion to an ill­ness. It doesn’t have to be an imag­ined ill­ness, or a med­ically unex­plained ill­ness. It can be can­cer, or gout. If you are plagued by chronic pain, let us say, and fret about it a lot, then your physi­cian can decide that you are being unrea­son­able, and thus declare you disordered.

sexual harassment in Philosophy departments

Sto­ries of harass­ment being taken seri­ously? Jen­der at What Is It Like to Be a Woman in Phi­los­o­phy? is ask­ing peo­ple in the philo­soph­i­cal com­mu­nity if they have a story of sex­ual harass­ment being taken seri­ously (in their philo­soph­i­cal community).

highest costs for medical care

The Cul­prit Behind High U.S. Health Care Prices by Uwe E. Rein­hardt at The New York Times

The $2.7 Tril­lion Med­ical Bill by Elis­a­beth Rosen­thal at The New York Times

…in Keene, N.H., Matt Meyer’s colonoscopy was billed at $7,563.56. Mag­gie Christ of Chap­paqua, N.Y., received $9,142.84 in bills for the pro­ce­dure. In Durham, N.C., the charges for Cur­tiss Dev­ereux came to $19,438, which included a polyp removal. While their insur­ers nego­ti­ated down the price, the final tab for each test was more than $3,500

…In many other devel­oped coun­tries, a basic colonoscopy costs just a few hun­dred dol­lars and cer­tainly well under $1,000. That chasm in price helps explain why the United States is far and away the world leader in med­ical spend­ing, even though numer­ous stud­ies have con­cluded that Amer­i­cans do not get bet­ter care.

Explain­ing High Health Care Spend­ing in the United States: An Inter­na­tional Com­par­i­son of Sup­ply, Uti­liza­tion, Prices, and Qual­ity by David A. Squires, M. A. at The Com­mon­Wealth Fund