The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room: Bioethical Concerns in Human Milk Banking ISBN: 9781532371875, Cove International Publishers, e-book by September Williams & Mother’s Milk Bank, San Jose.

The book opens with a forward explaining that human milk banking has a century of history built on the mission of saving infants. However, badly needed development has only recently begun as the result of “the sheer passion of women seeking to help mothers and babies”. The idea is to develop milk banks as an altruistic culture of milk donation, its collection, processing and distribution based on scientific knowledge. Finally in 1985 the Human Milk Banking Association of North America was formed to provide and advance all pertinent information with a basis of the operation “to support the mother’s journey to successfully breastfeed her own infant.” The specifics of the program and relevant features are set forth here under six major headings: I, A Request for Consultation; II, Should we let Babies Starve? Bioethics, Cases & Stories; III, Clinical Medical Ethical Decision Making: the Box Method; IV, The Elephant in the Room: Infant Mortality, Premature Birth and Health Disparities; V, Famine in the Midst of Plenty; VI, Conclusions. There also is an Appendix, an interesting description “About Mother’s Bank San Jose”, which is a ‘working Milk Bank’, and a brief “About the Author”. Each of the almost incredible number of pertinent factors associated with these major headings is presented at some length. Randomly selected are the subjects of the cost of breast milk as a tissue versus as a corporate product; introduction of payment vs altruistic giving of milk and the many ramifications, including a pertinent case involving Cambodian women; a history of commodification of human beings and their parts; numerous cases of horrendous usage of individuals and/or their bodies/tissues without their permission; disclosure as well as existing barriers to it; changing fate of premature babies and increased need of an increasing milk supply and almost countless more factors requiring consideration. Each section is followed by an impressive list of references.

Discussion: The author has made a most interesting case for the establishment of “Milk Banks”, a subject seldom entering the minds of the everyday citizen. Further she has provided a highly detailed and quite all-encompassing discussion of the factors of importance in accomplishing this mission. And she has presented her material in a most readable form in spite of simultaneously fortifying her compelling arguments in a quite scholarly fashion bolstered with 176 supporting references. The only somewhat deterrent feature is the absence of judicious editing of the repetition/redundancy that occurs throughout the book.

4* 5* Subject rating; -1* as explained.

The End of Suffering

The End of Suffering, an e-book published, copyright and written by Chuck Comstock.

Subtitled “How Making Peace with Depression and Anxiety Leads to a Life of Connection and Joy”, the book first states “the material in this book is intended for educational purposes only” and follows with an understandably well-worded disclaimer and brief statement of the author’s own struggles before devising the method he sets forth. The substance of the presentation starts with “The Beginning” where his personal problems are further explained followed by a section entitled Hairballs and Why They Must be Regurgitated that explains how the problems are like a cat’s and must be eliminated for health reasons. Incidentally and somewhat amusingly perhaps, he states: “ultimately this book is for me” and “sorry to disappoint anyone reading this. This being said, take this up as a challenge if you wish. Read this for you. Not for your wife or husband, not for your son or daughter, not for your mother or your boss or your friend, but for you.” The actual material to be set forth is divided into 3 sections – Section One: “What Happened” is followed by 3 chapters that present the numerous pertinent factors and how they originated. Applicable quotes are provided in the second chapter from Rowling’s Harry Potter, the Gospel of St Luke, Buddha, Tao Tee Ching and finally from the Wizard of Oz “Toto, I’ve a feeling we aren’t in Kansas anymore”. Number 3 sums up the section by declaring “The bad news is you can’t make your suffering go away” and offers “Both this book and its companion course include real life, practical ways to notice, discover and live in the beautiful world that you have so carefully hidden, it exists right under your nose.”

Section Two provides The Dilemma and the Key and contains 5 chapters explaining What Suffering is Not; What Suffering Is; 6. And 7, How Did All This Happen? Part 1 and 2; and Chapter 8. The Opposite is True, where he explains that “There never has been anything wrong with you” and “if you absorb this one key, you open the door to self-love, self-respect, self-nurturing and a deep sense of connection to everyone and everything in this world” because “Who you are is beyond what your mind currently believes and is capable of seeing.” Then Section Three: The End, includes chapters 9 – There is No Cure for Suffering with a reference to Kung Fu Panda and a statement: “truly facing reality and getting it deep inside your bones is the only way to be able to live on the other side of suffering”; 10 a and b discussing “Painful Dose(s) of reality and Practices for Discovering Reality; 11 Whose Fault is This, Anyway? that explains the need to find corrections in your thinking arising from those initiated in childhood; 12 where he offers An Optimal Method and finally Chapter 13 where he explains that it “took me over forty years to finally begin to end my internal war with myself” and admonishes readers to “Relax, take it easy, this isn’t your fault, try to enjoy the ride.” The Afterword, The Strangest Secret and Discovering Your Connection provide further summary-like material. A few references are added.

Discussion: It would appear that the basic theme of this book is that life is subject to many unknown factors over which an individual has no control. They in turn, often provide thoughts much at odds with how the mind has been taught one must act or react when such circumstances occur. These facts should be accepted as beyond our control so as not to fall into depression such as experienced for many years by the author. The book is the first of a series, and along with a course being provided is to teach this to prospective students. In other words, he is suggesting that he can induce the depression sufferer to experience a Gestalt-like experience that will illuminate the basic cause of the suffering so as to acquire a better, depression-free life.

Summary: The author has described the well-accepted concept of mental control and its effectiveness and suggested a procedure he believes is a viable means of gaining such understanding. However, he also has opened his method of Gestalt-like attainment to some degree of implausibility by a quote he previously has provided – “My goal is not to convince you scientifically. If you need that, you will have to do your own research.”

3* Method of depression elimination offered; cogent caveat suggested.