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Thats for you, dad

Only recently, pediatric psychologists and sociologists start to appreciate the role fathers play for the mental and intellectual development of children. In the past, it was "good practise" to marginalize any role of the paternal half of the parents. Although classical genetics has shown without any doubt that the inherited DNA variants from both parents are equally important for the traits such as skin or eye colour, blood groups, body heights, facial shape and many more, features of personality, in particular mentality of a person was usually considered to be formed predominantly by a mother-child relationship. 
There was, however, on exception: psychatric problems such as depression, borderline syndromes or schizophrenia were frequently attributed to inappropriate behaviour of the father towards his children. Physical or mental violence against the mother or the chrildren themself, neglectance or even sexual abuse by fathers are "common sense" factors with a long lasting, detrimental effect on the mental health.
In 2013, the US National Organization for Woman still considered any positive effect of a fathers involvement of childcare "A myth". But also serious scientific studies used to ingnore any benefical influence of a joint mother and father eductaion of their children. Many psycho-social studies on children and adolescents used to classify the "Type of Maternal Behaviour" simply as “Baby given to father” , as if on a scale from careful to neglecting parental habit, a responsibility by the father must be the worst case.
Recently, an accomplished science journalist and father of five, Paul Raeburn has published a book that sheds a new look on this issue. "Do Fathers Matter?” is an odd reading experience. As you make your way through the scientific studies that Raeburn has assembled—the book touches on everything from prairie voles and Neanderthals to “the caudate, a deep brain structure associated with feelings of love”—you can’t help but notice the weirdness of the question it poses. Asking whether a father “matters” to a child verges on nonsense; it’s like asking whether the radius matters to the circle, or whether the root matters to the branch. Fathers matter to children in a simple way—without them, they wouldn’t exist—and in a way that is too complicated to explain. Like it or not, our families are part of who we are, in ways we can and cannot know. It’s the biology, though, that I find myself still thinking about. “Do Fathers Matter?” is a strange book, because it tries to answer a question about families in mainly statistical, biological terms. But the truth is that we inherit from our parents a mixture of the personal and the impersonal. It matters that our fathers were kind to us when we were children or teen-agers—that they loved us—and, on Father’s Day, we’re grateful for those kindnesses.


Cloudbuster for a Tehran Nightingale

Day after day 
I press my ear down to the earth, 
trying to hear the sound of your blue slippers,
while you walk along the pavements of Tehran.
And I realized how endless can be four days,
when you stay barefoot in this little room of your own.


Cloudbusting (by Kate Bush)


I still dream of Orgonon
I wake up crying
You’re making rain
And you’re just in reach
When you and sleep escape me

You’re like my yo-yo
That glowed in the dark
What made it special
Made it dangerous
So I bury it
And forget

But every time it rains
You’re here in my head
Like the sun coming out
Ooh, I just know that something good is going to happen
And I don’t know when
But just saying it could even make it happen

On top of the world
Looking over the edge
You could see them coming
You looked too small
In their big, black car
To be a threat to the men in power

I hid my yo-yo
In the garden
I can’t hide you
From the government
Oh, God, Daddy
I won’t forget

‘Cause every time it rains
You’re here in my head
Like the sun coming out
Ooh, I just know that something good is going to happen
And I don’t know when
But just saying it could even make it happen
The sun’s coming out.
Your son’s coming out

One of the most fascinating songs by Kate Bush, but probably also one with the most cryptic lyrics. “Orgonon” refers to the hypothetical energy field proposed by the psychoanalysist Wilhelm Reich. Reich, after fleeing Germany and settling in the US, also constructed a so-called cloudbuster machine, which in this video is operated by the scientist, played here by Donald Southerland. Whereas most people interpret the lyrics of this song by Kate Bush very much along the biographie of Wilhelm Reich, I have a different interpretation.

Kate Bush was not unfamiliar with unpredictable changes of mood, or emotional ups and downs and periods of depression. These are frequently described by patients as “Dark Clouds”, since they arise suddenly and scarry like the clouds of a thunderstorm. “Cloudbuster” might therefore refer to a person (a friend or a therapist) who helps to chase away these clouds of depressions. Many viewers of the video further think that Kate Bush here simply “plays” the part of Peter, i.e. Wilhelm Reichs son. Strange for me to believe that Kate Bush should play a male part here. I think she represents a girl who is regularily plagued by depressive episodes, and who looks for help from an elder friend (i.e. Donald Southerland).

W H Reich ‘discovered’ Orgone energy, and made a machine which he claimed he could collect this energy, an orgone accumulator. It was – I believe – to do with the sale and marketing claims of this machine that he came to grief with the law. Orgonon was also the name given to a body of Aristotle’s works by his followers. So dreams of Orgonon can be understood as an alluision to this new form of energy which Reich claimed to have discovered. It could also be viewed as a reference to Reich’s banned opus.

Reich also he tried to measure the male orgasm and believed this was a type of energy present in all life forms which he called “orgone.”. He built cloudbusters which he believed could manipulate streams of orgone energy to produce rain. His 280 acre estate in Maine was called Orgonon. He was banned from orgone-therapy equipment across a state line and was jailed for 2 years when he failed to do so. He died in prison.

Is there anything in Reich’s work? As a student of physics I have to say I am highly dubious of orgon energy. There are plenty of forms of electromagnetic energy, many of which are used in medicine (from X rays, to radiotherapy, even to those wrist bands people wear to stop car sickness) there are sure to be many ways in which known forms of energy can have as yet unknown effetcs on the body. There seems to me to be no independent evidence of organon energy. It seems to have little explanatory power except in some accounts of the positive effect of Reich’s machine, which are perhaps better explained by the placebo effect.
But it is a great song and does not need to be seen as an appraisal of Reich’s work by Bush, but rather a study in daughter’s love for a father.


Depression: The Individual Manifestation of a Social State

I don't know if this is just a chance observation, but of people I know personally or of which I heared of, and of people who write blogs I recognise more and more reports about phases of depression. And in biomedical research, this is also a big issue: Some colleagues in a neighboring institute of neuro-genetics have large projects on depression, including mouse models for this, but also large patient studies. There are big efforts, and some small results, about the importance of inherited factors (i.e. genes transmitted from one generation to the next) and about
the detrimental influences of a problematic childhood and adolescence (experiences of home violence, abuse, frequent change of partners, neglectance) for the development of depressive conditions. So the focus goes mainly to the patient himself (inherited factors) or to contributions from the surrounding family.
I think that the influence of the society (including social media) and of the working community by far underestimated ? I know of people who were really suffering from depression for long time, untill they change their job and became completely normal. And these were not people who used to complain about their former job. Nobody would have guessed that the job was somehow linked to their depressive state, maybe not even themself. But since their condition improved so much after changing job, it is obvious that parts of the problem must have been job related. And for younger patients in school age there is obviously the influence of school environment which can promote or prevent the development of depression.  Schools like in Germany or in some Asian tiger states, which are mainly to promote a high-power elite, teaching the students to follow the track of Ariana Huffington, Mark Zuckerman, Sheryl Sandberg and other role models who are unknown to have ever experienced a grey day in life, leave quite a large fraction of the young people left in a state of personal doubt. There are also several studies showing that an intensive consumption of social media steams, which are always biased to show happy people and success-stories, can contribute to depression. 
I'd be interested to know to which degree depression can be treated to focus on the patients themself, and how much the society must change the social condition that promote or cause depression.