Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Just saying no

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 17 April 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:895
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

What is it about our daily lives that we should so often wish to escape them, either by travelling, by distracting ourselves furiously in pastimes, or of course by resorting to mind-altering substances? When I worked on some far-distant Pacific islands, where nature was beneficent and life seemed idyllic, I discovered that youths, if they could, inhaled the fumes of petrol. When I asked them why they did so, they did not say that it was because it made them feel better—on the contrary, it made them feel sick and dizzy. It was because it made them feel different; change, it seems, is desired for its own sake.

In Kate Chopin’s …

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