Mail Call: Anxiety And The Brain

Our March 3 story about fear's effect on the body drew letters of thanks from many readers. Sharing their worries during times of "government-induced fear," when "the imminence of a third world war is causing lots of stress," readers praised a story that many found "helpful" and "valuable."

Dealing With Fear

Thank you for the article on anxiety and how it affects our brain ("Our Bodies, Our Fears," March 3). It was very helpful because here in Brazil the imminence of a third world war is causing lots of stress. We worry about our friends in America, Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, Europe and Africa. In these bleak times, it is the world's responsibility to maintain hope and strengthen international brotherhood and sisterhood. For me, millions of people on the streets asking for peace are proof that humanity will overcome. Believing this decreases my anxiety.
Madza Ednir Nogueira
Sao Paulo, Brazil

Your story on anxiety, coping mechanisms and the body's response to stress contains some valuable information. For Americans now trapped in an endless loop of government-induced fear, you offer the necessary information to understand what is happening and what to do about it.
Diana Perry
Berkeley, California

Let me step out of my psychologist's clothing and offer some alternatives to help quell symptoms of anxiety in these tough times. How about starting by calling a relative or friend? Before the trip for a massage or yoga session, as suggested, perhaps one might consider chatting about current affairs with co-workers, or your child's busy teacher. Also, holding a significant other and simply disclosing your fears and feelings might have some therapeutic value. And before we pop another Prozac, might I suggest that developing a close, emotional relationship with your children might have some effect on quelling their fears?
Prof. Gary Creasey
Illinois State University
Normal, Illinois

Isn't it interesting that it takes a contemporary wise man, Dr. Lee Berk, to discover that laughter is like a medicine in dealing with anxiety? Obviously we intend to ignore the 3,000-year-old writings by the wisest of all men, Solomon, who penned, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine..." (Prov. 17:22)
Donald E. Karnes
Norfolk, Virginia

Should Beijing Be Bolder?

In his article "Time For China to Step Up" (March 3), Fareed Zakaria advocates that China should play a more active role in the ongoing North Korean nuclear crisis. He even thinks the crisis presents a golden opportunity for China. What a bold but unrealistic proposal. China's paramount task is to promote economic growth rather than establish itself as an influential giant in the international arena of politics and diplomacy. Besides, for the time being, decision makers in Beijing are more concerned with urgent domestic affairs like the power transition from the old generation to the new one. In spite of the fact that China shares a so-called comradely relationship with North Korea and is the leading country in providing North Korea with fuel and food, the once close friendship has been fading away as China's gradually integrates into the world community. North Korea is a country that prefers to live a life of proud loneliness and isolation. In a sense, China may exercise some influence, but it is definitely limited. The nuclear crisis is a game that needs only two players, the United States and North Korea. For China, it seems more an untouchable bomb than a historic opportunity. The more deeply China gets involved, the more awkward the situation it will be confronted with. I once read that in the international political stage, timing is very crucial. This is true for China today. At present, for China, the least action is the best action.
Richard Wu
Shanghai, China

Don't Forget the Disabled

As a wheelchair user and disability activist, I found your timely article a welcome reminder that it isn't just handicapped people in Asia who go through daily hardships trying to live a normal life when governments forget about their needs and rights to be treated as equal citizens ("The Stigma of Disability in Italy," March 3). People with disabilities are constantly suffering from a general lack of consideration for their plight. Your story shows that such lack of thought for the rights of minorities can happen in any nation. In our quest to develop society, one should always be mindful of the most vulnerable among us.
Anthony Sivabalan Thanasayan
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

India's Political Future

Your article on Gujarat reflected the dire straits Indian politics is in ("Modi's Moment," March 3). A nation built on the principles of nonviolence, tolerance and secularism by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru is being destabilized and destroyed by Hindu fundamentalist politicians. It is a shame that a country that has a president from the Muslim community treats his fellow Muslims in such a brutal manner. If a racist-minded politician like Narendra Modi is touted to become the future prime minister, then India is heading toward disaster. I think the Congress Party should not take religion as its propaganda tool to gain popularity. It should stick to its secularist policy. If the Congress Party also becomes religious-minded, Indian Muslims will be abandoned and their faith in democracy will be shattered.
Asokan Suppiah
Neuilly-Sur-Seine, France

It saddens me to think how India, with its proud legacy of an enlightened civilization, is being slowly but inexorably transformed into a nation of barbarians. This troubling state of affairs is only because of some crooked, self-seeking demagogues who call themselves politicians.
Abed Ali
Dhaka, Bangladesh

So Long, CDs

While the authors of "Hit Or Miss" (March 3) correctly highlighted changes in taste, poor quality and competition from the Internet as reasons for slipping CD sales, I think one overlooked factor is the mushrooming of DVD media. CDs are expensive for the limited amount of information they provide. For about the same price you get much more quality information from DVDs. The recording industry should know that my friends and I used to collect CDs, but now we are switching to DVD movies.
Choo Hong Chiang

Doubting the Division

I read your article about the differences between the Americans and the Europeans with great interest ("The Great Divide," Feb. 24). But I wonder if the description of the American people really corresponds to the reality. Why didn't the story mention that antiwar demonstrations have taken place in the United States? And readers should know that famous actors like Dustin Hoffman are taking an antiwar stance. Many Americans share with us Europeans the feeling that this war is not justified, and it would be more accurate to report about all events, not just pro-U.S.- government ones.
Federico Cimini
Rapperswil, Switzerland

Not Picture-Perfect

I believe that NEWSWEEK showed poor taste in choosing the Feb. 10 cover picture. Why not a photo of the brave crew of the Columbia shuttle? It would have been a better-looking cover than the idiotic business soldier you picked. It's not like the war doesn't dominate most cover stories, and space shuttles don't explode every day.
Darren Blum
Caesarea, Israel

Your Feb. 10 cover depicts a business executive with a camouflaged helmet. Unfortunately, neither the leaders of business nor their sons and daughters are likely to be themselves in harm's way. Their motto seems to be: "Live well and let others die." War means that thousands of people are torn apart and die horribly or are crippled for life. Many of them are innocent civilian victims. There can be reasons for war, as this survivor of Hitler's Third Reich can testify, but stock and oil prices do not qualify. In "The Waiting Game," NEWSWEEK quoted the Institute of Directors' report that noted, "In economic terms, a short war is better than no war, or regime change, because of the removal of uncertainty." Where are our human values? How do we reconcile this attitude with the Christian faith? Do you wonder why Europe and the Third World turn against the United States? People see a nation that is cynical when it comes to human lives and is using power ruthlessly. America is feared but not respected.
Helmut Diefenthal
Moshi, Tanzania

Closing the Credibility Gap

Rareed Zakaria is right in his column "Don't Open a Credibility Gap" (Feb. 17). It is dangerous for the United States to do so. But the gap doesn't come from failing to use the sword once it has been drawn, as he suggests. The U.S. government has not sufficiently demonstrated that Saddam poses an "imminent threat" to peace, and it failed to link his regime to Al Qaeda. And why is the administration not making clear that a war will chiefly be for economic and geopolitical motives to control Iraq's oil and chastise Saudi Arabia? This lack of straightforwardness adds to disturbing events that already undermine the nation's credibility: stock-market and corporate scandals that expose the greediness of the U.S. brand of capitalism, duplicity about globalization (the steel tariffs) and selfishness about global ecological concerns (nonratification of the Kyoto Protocol). The United States likes to refer to itself as "the greatest country," and there is little dispute about its advances in economic and human development. But true greatness will come when the country decides to lead by example and not to enforce its domination by a pure power play.
Franck Berger
Tokyo, Japan

If a warrior draws his sword without just cause, it takes courage and wisdom to return it to the sheath. Fareed Zakaria has set up a false dichotomy: sheathing the sword, or at least refraining from using it, does not mean turning one's back on the problem. There is a middle path between the two false choices of "cutting and running" and cutting bodies simply because the sword is revealed.
Harry Vayo
Oakland, Maine

Redefining Liberation

President George W. Bush will have to forgive the rest of the world for not believing him when he justifies unilateral military action by trumpeting that the United States "never conquers, but we liberate" ("War and Consequences," Feb. 3). History is full of enlightened Americans who, during their time, felt perfectly justified to "liberate" Native Americans of their land, "liberate" Africans into slavery and "liberate" the Pacific during World War II by dropping atomic bombs on Japan. Perhaps it would be better for the world if the president and his hawkish advisers first "liberate" their minds of their misguided arrogance.
C. Horatius Mosquera
Antipolo City, Philippines

Tips to Save the Planet

As explained in the Jan. 27 article "a Reckless Harvest," deforestation is a major problem in Asia. Unfortunately, forests all over the world are disappearing due to similar situations. The world's forests cannot support our reckless rate of consumption. While many people believe that circumstances are out of their control, we can do something. We need to start small and not be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Even NEWSWEEK could set a good example for the global community. What about using recycled paper and printing with soy-based inks? Let's think about taking small steps to reduce consumption, reuse whenever possible and recycle. The results will surely ripple and affect the world in a positive way.
Jennifer Krenz
Accra North, Ghana

The Power of Words

Thirsting for news about the "Matrix" sequels, I dove into the article "The Matrix Makers" (Dec. 30/Jan. 6) only to come to a dead stop at the description of "the Keymaker, a tiny Asian man..." It seems odd that the writer would use the phrase as if he were belittling the actor and character. Perhaps Trinity should have been described as a slim white woman, or Morpheus as a big black man, or the menacing Twins as the menacing white Twins. Ethnic adjectives should be excluded unless they contribute to a point being made. Otherwise we will continue to accept skin color and ethnicity as a means of judging performance and human character. Questionable adjective aside, the article was a fantastic pre-review of the two "Matrix" sequels. Unfortunately, I have a long wait, as I am currently in Kenya serving as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Gianghia Nar Dao
Misikhu, Kenya

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