Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Medical Cannabis – Safe Chronic Pain Management for Senior Citizens


Latest Research

Medical cannabis therapy can significantly reduce chronic pain in patients age 65 and older without adverse effects, according to researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Cannabis Clinical Research Institute at Soroka University Medical Center.

The new study, published in The European Journal of Internal Medicine, found cannabis therapy is safe and efficacious for elderly patients who are seeking to address cancer symptoms, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, and other medical issues.

"While older patients represent a large and growing population of medical cannabis users, few studies have addressed how it affects this particular group, which also suffers from dementia, frequent falls, mobility problems, and hearing and visual impairments," says Prof. Victor Novack, M.D., a professor of medicine in the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences (FOHS), and head of the Soroka Cannabis Clinical Research Institute. Novack is also the BGU Gussie Krupp Chair in Internal Medicine.

"After monitoring patients 65 and older for six months, we found medical cannabis treatment significantly relieves pain and improves quality of life for seniors with minimal side effects reported."

This older population represents a growing segment of medical cannabis users, ranging from approximately seven percent to more than 33 percent, depending on the country. Recent U.S. polls indicate Americans over 65 represent 14 percent of the total population and use more than 30 percent of all prescription drugs, including highly addictive painkillers.

BGU researchers surveyed 2,736 patients 65 years and older who received medical cannabis through "Tikun Olam," the largest Israeli medical cannabis supplier. More than 60 percent were prescribed medical cannabis due to the pain, particularly pain associated with cancer. After six months of treatment, more than 93 percent of 901 respondents reported their pain dropped from a median of eight to four on a 10-point scale. Close to 60 percent of patients who originally reported "bad" or "very bad" quality of life upgraded to "good" or "very good" after six months. More than 70 percent of patients surveyed reported moderate to significant improvement in their condition.

The most commonly reported adverse effects were dizziness (9.7 percent) and dry mouth (7.1 percent). After six months, more than 18 percent of patients surveyed had stopped using opioid analgesics or had reduced their dosage.



What Senior Citizens Should Know about Medical Cannabis

For decades, marijuana was portrayed in the media merely as an illegal drug used to get people high, and the people who use marijuana as no more than drug addicts and hippies seeking a desperate measure to detach from reality. Senior citizens grew up during a time when marijuana was illegal in the United States and in most countries around the Globe.  Accordingly, the golden generation may perhaps be the most misinformed about marijuana, yet, ironically, might also be the age demographic that benefits the most from this natural plant.  Below are 10 things senior citizens should know about medical marijuana.

1. Marijuana is SAFER than many commonly prescribed medications

Most seniors take prescription drugs on a daily basis. The “side effects” of marijuana are insignificant in comparison to the side effects of many prescription drugs, and not a single person has ever died from a marijuana overdose. An ongoing 30-year study found that a person weighing 140 pounds would have to consume over 4 pounds of marijuana in one sitting to reach toxic levels, and that still would not be a fatal dosage. The powerful anti-oxidant effects of marijuana can provide relief for many disorders including liver inflammation from Hepatitis C, lupus, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other serious medical conditions that all involve inflammation and oxidative damage.

2. Marijuana is not physically addictive

Many seniors fear that if they start using marijuana they will become addicted. People can use marijuana daily and then stop “cold turkey”.  Discontinuing the use of marijuana has much the same response as quitting the consumption of coffee. Many people who seek welcome and effective respite from chronic pain, anxiety, and stress use marijuana as a daily medicine.

3. Marijuana can reduce and possibly replace many prescription medications

A major complaint of seniors regarding their daily medications is that the first pill often causes side effects that the second one is supposed to “fix.”  "Marijuana's healing properties target various conditions such as inflamed joints, high blood pressure, chronic pain, digestive disorders, constipation, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, cognitive awareness, and more Marijuana has the potential for accentuating the effect of many commonly prescribed drugs (blog.norml.org)." For example, opiate based painkillers are typically enhanced when marijuana is used concurrently, often resulting in a reduction of pharmaceutical medicines.

4. There are many different types, or “strains” of marijuana

Growing this plant is not terribly different from gardeners attempting to create the perfect rose or tomato plant.  Each plant has its own personality and effects. There are strains that are very helpful for chronic pain relief and strains Some strains can make one feel very focused and energized, while others can be relaxing and help with a good night’s sleep.

5. There are marijuana strains without “the high”

“If I could get the medical benefit from the plant without the high, I’d consider it.” said many of the seniors we’ve spoken to.  Harvest cultivators have developed and are currently producing potent CBD genetic strains that have minimal psychoactive effect.  CBD, or cannabidiol, is tremendous for inflammation, eases pain, stimulates bone growth, suppresses muscular spasms, reduces anxiety, and increases mental focus. Harvest currently carries liquid extracts that have no “high” at all. These have proven extremely successful for persons suffering from arthritis pain, nausea, and muscle spasms.

6. There are ways to use marijuana other than smoking it

One common misconception among aging adults is that they have to smoke marijuana to gain the medicinal benefits. Vendors provide products in different shapes, like liquid extracts, infused honey, candies, baked goods, and other products to choose from. Marijuana can be added to just about any regular recipe in the form of marijuana infused butters or oils. This opens up so many options for your medicine.

7. Marijuana-infused ointments can be very effective in alleviating arthritis and neuropathy pain

Locally made, medicated creams are very popular for sore joints and muscles and back pain. They are very effective, smell nice and give a you no “high” so you can feel comfortable using the products throughout the day.

8. Marijuana does not lower your IQ or cause brain damage

Another common misconception aging adults have with marijuana is that can lower intelligence or cause brain damage. There is no documentation that shows that marijuana reduces or “kills brain cells.” Studies with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients indicate that marijuana gradually encourages new neural pathways, allowing those with impaired brain function to potentially halt further degeneration and even encourage brain function.

9. Marijuana can help increase your appetite

One of the most dangerous health risks among senior citizens is the loss of appetite, leading to weight loss. Marijuana has been extremely successful in alleviating nausea and as an appetite stimulant. That being said, A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology finds an intriguing connection between marijuana use and body weight, showing that rates of obesity are lower by roughly a third in people who smoke marijuana at least three times a week, compared with those who don’t use marijuana at all.

10. The stigma around medical marijuana use is fading

Seniors are the fastest growing population of new medical marijuana users. Marijuana becomes more and more acceptable in different age groups and clusters of population, given that more and more States legalize weed for medical and even recreational purposes.



Cannabis Types

While there are over 100 different cannabinoids that can occur in cannabis, the two most well-known and studied compounds in the cannabis plant happen to also be the two that occur in the largest volume: delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC, and cannabidiol, known as CBD. Like all other cannabinoids, these two must be heated to convert the cannabinoid acid to the active cannabinoid. THC is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis which gives the effect of what recreational users call the “high.” CBD is considered to be non-psychoactive and when used in conjunction with THC helps dampen the psychoactivity and other side effects some people consider undesirable. Both cannabinoids have an impressive list of ways they support the human body.

THC is a strong anti-inflammatory and pain killer and has been shown to reduce the amyloid plaques in the brain that cause Alzhiemer’s. In pre-clinical trials THC has been proven to reduce levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in glioma (brain cancer) cells. This is important because a reduction in VEGF means that brain cancer tumors are unable to grow the new blood vessels they need to sustain themselves, grow and spread. This discovery offers great promise for the treatment of brain cancer.

THC is also a bronchodilator, anti-spasmodic, muscle relaxant, a powerful neuroprotectant and antioxidant. In fact, it has 20 times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone.

CBD is the second most common cannabinoid in cannabis and the most common in hemp plants. CBD can generally represent 0.1-12 percent of the cannabinoid content of the plant. CBD rich cannabis (4% or more) provides potent therapeutic benefits without the euphoria or lethargy of many high THC varieties. CBD and THC are believed to have a synergistic effect meaning that when they are both present at therapeutic levels, they are more effective together than they are alone. While THC is widely known for its psychoactive properties, CBD may be best known for its ability to counterbalance anxiety, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), hunger and sedation caused by THC and its ability to control sever forms of epilepsy.

CBD was once considered a minor cannabinoid under the shadow of THC. What we know now is that CBD is as beneficial and versatile a cannabinoid as THC in addressing many hard to manage conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, epilepsy, antibiotic-resistant infections, alcoholism, PSTD and neurological disorders. CBD has very strong anxiolytic (reduces anxiousness), anti-convulsant, anti-emetic (reduces nausea), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant (stronger than vitamins C & E), anti-depressant and anti-psychotic properties. One of the most exciting aspects of CBD is its combined strong anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and neuro-protective properties which yields great promise for the treatment of Alzhiemer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and all neurodegenerative-related diseases. CBD also helps regulate blood pressure and is cytotoxic to breast cancer and certain other types of cancer cells while protecting healthy cells.

What Symptoms of Chronic Pain Can Marijuana Treat?

Medical marijuana/cannabis and chronic pain conditions are closely related regarding alleviating symptoms you may have been suffering from for a protracted time. Medical pot may offer you substantial relief if you suffer from any of the following:

General non-specific chronic pain — for example, cancer pain or chronic neuropathic pain
·         Low back pain
·         Osteoarthritis
·         Rheumatoid arthritis
·         TMJ disorder
·         Headaches
·         Fibromyalgia
·         Irritable bowel syndrome
·         Chronic fatigue syndrome
·         Neck pain
·         HIV/AIDS-related pain
·         Multiple Sclerosis
·         Central nervous system issues
·         Accident and injury-related pain
·         Sciatica



What Are the Best Strains of Marijuana to Use?

Whether you use edible forms of medical cannabis for chronic pain, roll it into a joint or use a vaporizer, there are many different strains of the plant that can substantially reduce discomfort. Perhaps you feel better when you smoke the drug, whereas someone else may find that taking low-dose edibles works for them.

Of course, the chemical composition of the strain you choose as well as your method of ingestion may affect your painkilling outcome. Keep in mind that it’s likely you might need to take a trial and error approach before you hit on the right strain and dosage for you.

Generally speaking, less is more when it comes to treating this type of pain. Many people find that indica strains that are higher in THC — the primary psychoactive substance that gives you a “high” — content than hybrid or sativa strains work well for them. These also work most effectively in doses that are low to moderate and can potentially make your pain worsen in higher doses.

No matter how you plan to ingest medical cannabis, there are various strains that can help reduce your discomfort. These include:

ACDC

Although it can be difficult to find, it contains high levels of the cannabinoids CBD and THC. Advocates of this strain indicate that the benefits are numerous.

Afghan Kush

A potent general pain reliever, Afghan Kush comprises of almost 100 percent indica. Its effects are felt mostly physically, and this is why it works so well regarding pain relief. Afghan Kush contains anti-inflammatory and painkilling terpenes, as well as a high level of pain-dispelling THC.

This strain contains caryophyllene, which is known to work against cancer. Therefore, if your chronic pain is cancer-related, this could offer you relief. Other useful strains high in caryophyllene include Super Sour Diesel, Maui Waui and Hash Plant.

Blue Dream

Blue Dream is a hybrid sativa that was first grown in California. It provides not only relaxation throughout the entire body, but many users also find it to be invigorating. This strain produces a mellow euphoria that produces a calming effect and also has an aroma similar to berries. Since it doesn’t result in the sedative effects of other strains, Blue Dream is well-suited for daytime use.

Granddaddy Purple

Another Californian type, Granddaddy Purple has been in existence for approximately 15 years. This strain can be potent, so don’t use it if you plan to go out during the day or the evening. Patients use Granddaddy Purple to relieve symptoms from pain, muscle spasms, stress, insomnia and more.

Girl Scout Cookies

This is another hybrid with a sweet aroma that’s very easy to spot, thanks to its orange hairs and purple leaves. This strain is well-known for producing a feeling of relaxation throughout the body and is popular among people who suffer from not only severe pain but also nausea and loss of appetite. The Girl Scout Cookies strain is best taken in small doses until you’re certain of how much you can handle at one time.

Jack Herer

A well-known strain for easing nerve pain, Jack Herer, named after the author and activist, is high in sativa. Filled with natural painkillers, Jack Herer contains pinene that has anti-tumor properties.

White Widow

A half-and-half cross between a pure indica and a pure sativa, this is a well-balanced strain that makes you feel uplifted while tackling your pain. White Widow also contains Linalool, an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever that’s also found in lavender.

Always speak to your doctor about which medical marijuana strain is anticipated to work best for your type of chronic pain.



Side Effects of Medical Cannabis

It’s imperative that you start off with the lowest dose possible when you’re beginning to take medical pot. You’ll soon find out via a trial and error process what works best for you.

If you do have any side effects of ingesting medical marijuana, they won’t last long and may include:
·         Drowsiness
·         Dizziness
·         Dry mouth
·         Short-term memory loss
·         Euphoria
·         Thirst
·         Increased appetite
·         Insomnia
·         Red eyes
·         Anxiety or uneasiness
·         Giddiness

Medical marijuana affects everyone differently, but overall the marijuana side effects are more manageable and milder than those that come with traditional medicines like opioids.



Sources and Additional Information:

Saturday, August 19, 2017

How to Break Free from Your Jealousy?

Jealousy is a killer. Relationships end because of jealous conflicts and people kill other people because they are jealous.

Imagine this. You are at a party and someone is friendly and you smile. Your partner thinks that you are betraying her. Or your partner tells you a funny story about a former lover and you feel threatened. You feel the anger and the anxiety rising inside you and you don’t know what to do.

Susan could identify with this. She would glare at her partner, trying to send him a “message” that she was really annoyed and hurt. She hoped he would get the message. At times, she would withdraw into pouting, hoping to punish him for showing an interest in someone else. But it didn’t work. He just felt confused.

At other times Susan would ask him if she still found her attractive. Was he getting bored with her? Was she his type? At first, he would reassure her, but then—with repeated demands for her for more reassurance—he began to wonder why she felt so insecure. Maybe she wasn’t the right one for him.

And when things got more difficult for Susan, she would yell at him, “Why don’t you go home with her? It’s obvious you want to!”

These kinds of jealous conflicts can end a relationship.

But, if you are jealous, does this mean that there is something terribly wrong with you?

Let's look at what is going on when you are jealous and how you can handle it.

Jealousy is angry agitated worry.



When we are jealous we worry that our partner might find someone else more appealing and we fear that he or she will reject us. Since we feel threatened that our partner might find someone more attractive, we may activate jealousy as a way to cope with this threat. We may believe that our jealousy may keep us from being surprised, help us defend our rights, and force our partner to give up interests elsewhere. Similar to worry, jealousy may be a “strategy” that we use so that we can figure out what is going wrong or learn what our partner “really feels.” We may also think that our jealousy can motivate us to give up on the relationship—so that we don’t get hurt any more. If you are feeling jealous, it’s important to ask yourself what you hope to gain by your jealousy. We view jealousy as a coping strategy.

Similar to other forms of worry, jealousy leads us to focus only on the negative. We interpret our partner’s behavior as reflecting a loss of interest in us or a growing interest in someone else: “He finds her attractive” or “He is yawning because I am boring.” Like other forms of worry, jealousy leads us to take things personally and to mind-read negative emotions in other people: “She’s getting dressed up to attract other guys.”

Jealousy can be an adaptive emotion.

People have different reasons—in different cultures—for being jealous. But jealousy is a universal emotion. Evolutionary psychologist David Buss in The Dangerous Passion makes a good case that jealousy has evolved as a mechanism to defend our interests. After all, our ancestors who drove off competitors were more likely to have their genes survive. Indeed, intruding males (whether among lions or humans) have been known to kill off the infants or children of the displaced male. Jealousy was a way in which vital interests could be defended.

We believe that it is important to normalize jealousy as an emotion. Telling people that “You must be neurotic if you are jealous” or “You must have low self-esteem” will not work. In fact, jealousy—in some cases—may reflect high self-esteem: “I won’t allow myself to be treated this way.”



Jealousy may reflect your higher values

Psychologists—especially psychoanalysts—have looked at jealousy as a sign of deep-seated insecurities and personality defects. We view jealousy as a much more complicated emotion. In fact, jealousy may actually reflect your higher values of commitment, monogamy, love, honesty, and sincerity. You may feel jealous because you want a monogamous relationship and you fear that you will lose what is valuable to you. We find it helpful to validate these values in our patients who are jealous.

Some people may say, “You don’t own the other person.” Of course, this is true—and any loving relationship with mutuality is based on freedom. But it is also based on choices that two free people make. If your partner freely chooses to go off with someone else, then you may rest assured that you have good reasons to feel jealous. We don’t own each other, but we may make affirmations about our commitment to each other.

But if your higher values are based on honesty, commitment and monogamy, your jealousy may jeopardize the relationship. You are in a bind. You don’t want to give up on your higher values—but you don’t want to feel overwhelmed by your jealousy.

Jealous feelings are different from jealous behaviors

Just as there is a difference between feeling angry and acting in a hostile way, there is a difference between feeling jealous and acting on your jealousy. It’s important to realize that your relationship is more likely to be jeopardized by your jealous behavior—such as continual accusations, reassurance-seeking, pouting, and acting-out. Stop and say to yourself, “I know that I am feeling jealous, but I don’t have to act on it.”

Notice that it is a feeling inside you. But you have a choice of whether you act on it.

What choice will be in your interest?



Accept and observe your jealous thoughts and feelings

When you notice that you are feeling jealous, take a moment, breathe slowly, and observe your thoughts and feelings. Recognize that jealous thoughts are not the same thing as a REALITY. You may think that your partner is interested in someone else, but that doesn’t mean that he really is. Thinking and reality are different.

You don’t have to obey your jealous feelings and thoughts.

Notice that your feeling of anger and anxiety may increase while you stand back and observe these experiences. Accept that you can have an emotion—and allow it to be. You don’t have to “get rid of the feeling.” We have found that mindfully standing back and observing that a feeling is there can often lead to the feeling weakening on its own.

Stop comparing yourself to others

As said, some (not all) jealousy may be driven by low self-esteem. "How could they love me? I don't understand how someone like them could be attracted to someone like me!" We none of us are supposed to understand exactly why someone loves us. Does the Mona Lisa painting know why it is so valuable? Of course, you may be able to appreciate attractive qualities in yourself, but consider this:

There are better looking, richer, funnier, smarter, younger people around than just about all of us, but these are qualities of a 'product'. If he or she loves you, it will be because of an extra, indefinable quality you have that they couldn't even explain - some deep part of your humanity they connected to which transcends looks, youth, wealth, and so forth. Some of the most loved people in history have been well down the list when it comes to looks or wealth. Stop trying to 'work out' why they can possibly like you.



Recognize that uncertainty is part of every relationship

Like many worries, jealousy seeks certainty. “I want to know for sure that he isn’t interested in her.” Or, “I want to know for sure that we won’t break up.” Ironically, some people will even precipitate a crisis in order to get the certainty. “I’ll break off with her before she breaks off with me!”

But uncertainty is part of life and we have to learn how to accept it. Uncertainty is one of those limitations that we can’t really do anything about. You can never know for sure that your partner won’t reject you. But if you accuse, demand and punish, you might create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Stop confusing make-believe with reality

Jealousy, like many psychological problems (from hypochondria to paranoia), is driven by the destructive use of the imagination. The imagination is great...if you use it for your own benefit, not if it messes with your mind. Stephen King has a stellar career from making stuff up and writing about it. But he distances himself (thankfully for him!) from stuff he creates in his head. He doesn't believe everything he writes is real just because he imagined it. Right now, I can imagine an alien invasion headed right towards Earth. I can vividly 'see' the pesky aliens about to land the mother ship in my local park, but I don't believe it.

Stop trusting your imagination so much. Think about it:
·         Your partner is home later than you thought they were going to be.
·         You start to imagine them having an intimate drink with that handsome guy you saw working in her office or that luscious sister of his new gym partner you happened to see one time.
·         You become angry, upset, frightened - without having any evidence that what you imagined is real.
·         They come home and you react 'weirdly' by being very cold or you have an outburst of anger toward them.
·         They become defensive and angry back in turn.

Examine your assumptions about relationships

Your jealousy may be fueled by unrealistic ideas about relationships. These may include beliefs that past relationships (that your partner had) are a threat to your relationship. Or you may believe that “My partner should never be attracted to anyone else.” You may also believe that your emotions (of jealousy and anxiety) are a “sign” that there is a problem. We call this “emotional reasoning”—and it is often a very bad way to make decisions.

Or you may have problematic beliefs about how to feel more secure. For example, you may believe that you can force your partner to love you—or force him or her to lose interest in someone else. You may believe that withdrawing and pouting will send a message to your partner—and lead him to try to get closer to you. But withdrawing may lead your partner to lose interest.

Sometimes your assumptions about relationships are affected by your childhood experiences or past intimate relationships. If your parents had a difficult divorce because your father left your mother for someone else, you may be more prone to believe that his may happen to you. Or you may have been betrayed in a recent relationship and you now think that your current relationship will be a replay of this.

You may also believe that you have little to offer—who would want to be with you? If your jealousy is based on this belief, then you might examine the evidence for and against this idea. For example, one woman thought she had little to offer. But when I asked her what she would want in an ideal partner—intelligence, warmth, emotional closeness, creativity, fun, lots of interests—she realized that she was describing herself! If she were so undesirable, then why would she see herself as an ideal partner?

Listen to your partner

If your partner tells you she will be late for dinner because of work, try to trust her. This is easier said than done, but give it some time. In the beginning, you won’t trust your partner and you’ll feel restless. But after a while you’ll see that by trusting your partner the jealousy slowly fades away.

What happens if you don’t trust your partner? You’ll probably check your partner’s whereabouts and you’ll only be satisfied when you have proof… for a while. Because every time your partner is somewhere else, you need to feed the jealous wolf inside you. If you can’t feed the jealous wolf, it becomes hungrier and more upset (your jealousy becomes worse). By checking if your partner spoke the truth you are actually feeding the wolf (and so you keep the wolf alive). So basically, dealing with jealousy means that you stop checking your partner’s whereabouts, and start to believe your partner. Another tip: write down or think of all the possible reasons your partner may have to be late, or to act ‘mysterious’. Write down your jealous making thoughts the last. Then rate them: how likely is this reason (in percentage). Make sure you start with the first one you wrote down and make sure they all add up to 100%. Now, check the results.

Use effective relationship skills

You don’t have to rely on jealousy and jealous behavior to make your relationship more secure. You can use more effective behavior. This includes becoming more rewarding to each other—“catch your partner doing something positive.” Praise each other, plan positive experiences with each other, and try to refrain from criticism, sarcasm, labeling, and contempt. Learn how to share responsibility in solving problems—use “mutual problem solving skills.” Set up “pleasure days” with each other by developing a “menu” of positive and pleasurable behaviors you want from each other. For example, you can say, “Let’s set up a day this week that will be your pleasure day and a day that will be my pleasure day.” Make a list of pleasant and simple behaviors you want from each other: “I’d like a foot-rub, talk with me about my work, let’s cook a meal together, let’s go for a walk in the park.”



Stop limiting your partner

Jealous people love to limit their partner as much as possible. You might not want to admit it, but it is true. Dealing with jealousy like this is the easiest way. It makes you feel good to know that your partner is not in touch with A or B any more. But does it make you trust your partner more? No, not at all. Why? Exposure. I will use an example to illustrate this.

The first time you did something exciting (bungee jump, driving a car, or having sex) it was amazing and you were high in adrenaline. Just thinking of this experience made you feel excited again. However, after doing a lot of bungee jumps, driving the car a lot or having a lot of sex with the same person, it becomes less exciting. What does this have to do with jealousy? Well, imagine that your partner chatting to your rival is like a first bungee jump, it’s very scary and you will feel a lot of adrenaline. But the more your partner talks to your rival, the more normal it becomes. Normal things do not make you upset or anything.

But pay attention: you will constantly find something new in your partner’s behavior to be jealous of (she touched his arm, she kissed him too close to the mouth when saying goodbye, she smiles too often <— but this is your imagination). Give your partner the chance to show that they can be trusted. Not limiting your partner is scary in the beginning, but a very effective way of dealing with jealousy on the long run.

Look at the Big Picture

We can get so wrapped up with what we have that it's hard to maintain a realistic perspective on things sometimes. If there is something that's stopping you from being satisfied with the way things are, try to find the root of the issue. Talk it out or take some time for yourself to reflect on what steps need to be taken to make these changes. Address potentially invisible issues or dissatisfactions before they become real problems.

Per the relationship experts Susie and Otto Collins in an article on World of Psychology, it's important to stop stalking and start talking when jealousy hits. If you have a gut-wrenching feeling that your partner is cozying up a little too closely with someone else, vocalize rather than accuse. There may be something missing or just something that's needed to be talked about for a while that you couldn't even see because you were too busy focusing on your suspicions.




Sources and Additional Information:


Monday, March 13, 2017

How Much Czar Alexander II Assassination affected Future of Russia?

Russia – a huge country somewhere far away, a country with almost no history of real democracy, a country, which is currently responsible, directly or indirectly, for many negative political processes in the modern World, a country, which decided to revise the established borders and order by capturing territories of the neighboring countries – Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine.

But why the country with huge territory and enormous natural resources has not turned to the prosperous establishment, but merely managed to supply oil, gas, gold, and educated human resources to the World, remaining almost permanently on the list of the “outlaws”, together with N. Korea, Venezuela, and Iran.

But maybe, just maybe, the reason, at least partially, the reason of the unfortunate past can be attributed to this day in the history, the event that happened exactly 136 years ago.

This day, March 13, 1881 (March 1 – Old Style), Czar Alexander II, the ruler of Russia since 1855, was killed in the streets of St. Petersburg by a bomb, thrown by a member of the revolutionary “People’s Will” group. The People’s Will, organized in 1879, employed terrorism and assassination in their attempt to overthrow Russia’s czarist autocracy. They murdered officials and made several attempts on the czar’s life before finally assassinating him.

As czar, Alexander did much to liberalize and modernize Russia, including the abolishment of serfdom in 1861. However, when his authority was challenged, he turned more repressive, and he vehemently opposed movements for political reform. Ironically, on the very day he was killed, he signed a proclamation–the so-called Loris-Melikov constitution–that would have created two legislative commissions made up of indirectly elected representatives, offering the substantial step towards democratic constitution.



Alexander II Reforms

Alexander II’s ‘great reforms’ stand out as among the most significant events in nineteenth century Russian history. Alexander became known as the ‘Csar Liberator’ because he abolished serfdom in 1861. Yet 20 years later he was assassinated by terrorists.

Why did Alexander decide to introduce a program of reforms, and why did these reforms fail to satisfy the Russian people?

The reforms were a direct response to Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War and were intended to liberate Russian society from some of its most archaic practices, improve the economic and military efficiency of the war and preserve the existing socio-political structure by a process of modification. The essentially conservative nature of Alexander’s reforms is betrayed by the continuity in policy from the reign of his predecessor Nicholas I (1825-1855). Yet this conservatism, far from guaranteeing the safety of the aristocracy, jeopardised the stability of Russia because it left a 50-year legacy of social and political dissatisfaction to Alexander’s successors.

Emancipation: The Fundamental Reform

The need for reform was evident well before the reign of Alexander II. The Decembrist Revolt of 1825 occurred just as Nicholas I acceded to the throne. Although it was unsuccessful, the uprising demonstrated that the autocracy could not continue to ignore demands for reform indefinitely. The condition of the peasantry was perhaps the most prominent weakness in Russian society. The Pugachev Revolt (1773-75) had served as a reminder of the threat that a dissatisfied peasantry could represent.

Nicholas I introduced a series of minor reforms which improved the conditions of state and crown peasants and which were intended to serve as a model to the dvoriane (nobility) as to how they should treat their private serfs. Most landowners, however, took little notice of these measures and continue to extract feudal dues and labour services from their serfs without regard for their welfare. It is clear that Nicholas I abhorred serfdom: in 1842 he declared to the Council of State: ‘There can be no doubt that serfdom in its present situation in our country is an evil… [It] cannot last forever … The only answer is thus to prepare the way for a gradual transition to a different order…’ However, the conservatism of the autocracy was such that it would not compel the dvoriane by abolishing serfdom unilaterally. It took the shock of Russia’s disastrous performance in the Crimean War, the concomitant death of Nicholas I and the accession of Alexander II to alter the situation.

Alexander II had served on the committees of inquiry into serfdom and he was acutely aware of the weakness of the Russian state. Defeat by Britain and France now demonstrated that Russia was lagging behind her European counterparts. In the autumn of 1856 Yuriy Samarin, a prominent Slavophile, articulated the concerns of political society when he wrote that 'We were defeated not by the external forces of the Western alliance but by our own internal weakness.' Criticisms of serfdom were echoing from many quarters. General Dimitry Milutin, later Minister for War (1861-1881), advised the new Tsar that reform of the Russian army was impossible while serfdom continued to exist. Only by reforming the very foundations of Russian society could effective military capacity be restored and great power status recovered Serfdom was also condemned as economically inefficient. K. D. Kavelin, a liberal university professor, wrote a critique of serfdom in 1856 in which he observed that 'In the economic sphere, serfdom brings the whole state into an abnormal situation and gives rise to artificial phenomena in the national economy which have an unhealthy influence on the whole state 'organism of the state’. It was argued that serfdom impeded the emergence of a modern capitalist economy because the existence of an inelastic labour force and the absence of a money economy retarded industrial development It was further argued that serfdom was an inefficient and unproductive form of agriculture because, essentially, it was forced labour, and so the serfs had no incentive to do any more than subsist.

Despite these powerful arguments in favor of abolishing serfdom, it was still difficult for Alexander II to overcome the inertia of the dvoriane on the issue The Csar had to conjure up the specter of widespread peasant revolt in order to persuade his reticent nobles that there was no alternative to Emancipation. In a speech to the Tver nobility, he declared that 'It is better to abolish serfdom from above than to wait for the time when it begins to abolish itself from below.'



Other Reforms

In response to the overwhelming defeat (1856) suffered by Russia in the Crimean War and to attempt to keep pace with military advances in other European countries, Alexander II appointed Dmitry Milyutin to carry out significant reforms in the Russian armed forces. The changes included universal military conscription, introduced for all social classes on 1 January 1874. Prior to this new regulation, as of 1861, conscription was compulsorily enforced only for the peasantry. Conscription had, prior to this reform, been 25 years for serfs that were drafted by their landowners, which was widely considered to be a life sentence. Other military reforms included extending the reserve forces and the military district system, which split the Russian states into 15 military districts, a system still in use over a hundred years later.

The building of strategic railways and an emphasis on the military education of the officer corps comprised further reforms. Corporal punishment in the military and branding of soldiers as punishment were banned. The bulk of important military reforms were enacted because of the poor showing in the Crimean War.

A new judicial administration (1864), based on the French model, introduced security of tenure. A new penal code and a greatly simplified system of civil and criminal procedure also came into operation. Reorganization of the judiciary, to include trial in open court, with judges appointed for life, a jury system and the creation of justices of the peace to deal with minor offences at local level.

Alexander's bureaucracy instituted an elaborate scheme of local self-government (zemstvo) for the rural districts (1864) and the large towns (1870), with elective assemblies possessing a restricted right of taxation, and a new rural and municipal police under the direction of the Minister of the Interior.

The Impact of Alexander II's Reforms

Significant though the reforms of Alexander II were, they failed to create popular support for the Tsarist regime. In 1862, Alexander granted Poland limited autonomy, but the Poles were traditionally hostile to the Russian Empire and in 1863 they rebelled. The Polish Revolt was countered with repression, the orthodox policy of Tsarist autocracy. In 1866, Karakazov, a former student of the University of Kazan, fired a pistol shot at the Tsar. This unsuccessful attempt on Alexander's life resulted in the replacement of Golovnin, the Minister of Education, by the conservative Dimitry Tolstoy, who acted to restrict access to university education.

Russian intellectuals interpreted Alexander's reforms as an attempt to perpetuate the existing political system. Historical opinion has for the most part agreed with this assessment. Florinsky, for example, has suggested that the reforms were nothing more than ‘halfhearted concessions on the part of those who (with some exceptions) hated to see the disappearance of the old order and tried to save as much of it as circumstances would allow’. The response of the Russian intelligentsia was the Populist 'going to the people' in 1874. When this failed, propaganda gave way to terrorism, which culminated in the assassination of Alexander II in 1881. Although it did not achieve its objective of igniting a revolution in Russia, Populism was nevertheless significant. It made a start in developing the political consciousness of the people and its terrorist actions inspired later insurrectionists. The Social Revolutionaries, descendants of Populism, were the most important insurgent group at the turn of the century.



No Constitution for Russia

Alexander II's death caused a great setback for the reform movement. One of his last acts was the approval of Mikhail Loris-Melikov's constitutional reforms. Though the reforms were conservative in practice, their significance lay in the value Alexander II attributed to them: "I have given my approval, but I do not hide from myself the fact that it is the first step towards a constitution." In a matter of 48 hours, Alexander II planned to release these plans to the Russian people. Instead, following his succession Alexander III under the advice of Konstantin Pobedonostsev chose to abandon these reforms and went on to pursue a policy of greater autocratic power.

The assassination triggered major suppression of civil liberties in Russia, and police brutality burst back in full force after experiencing some restraint under the reign of Alexander II, whose death was witnessed first-hand by his son, Alexander III, and his grandson, Nicholas II, both future emperors who vowed not to have the same fate befall them. Both used the Okhrana to arrest protestors and uproot suspected rebel groups, creating further suppression of personal freedom for the Russian people. A series of anti-Jewish pogroms and anti-Semitic legislation, the May Laws, were yet another result.

Finally, the csar's assassination also inspired anarchists to advocate "'propaganda by deed'—the use of a spectacular act of violence to incite revolution."

The downfall of the Romanovs came in 1917 under Nicholas II, largely due to the incompetence of the tsar, a reactionary but weak leader, who not only alienated the lower classes, but also the nobility, who were critical of the influence of the Tsarina and Grigori Rasputin on government affairs. There is no doubt that Nicholas faced a number of great difficulties when he came to the throne, but his lack of leadership and political authority exacerbated these differences, and despite measures which may have temporarily appeased radicals (such as the October Manifesto of 1905), Nicholas II’s mishandling of domestic politics largely contributed to the downfall of the Romanov monarchy.

The legacy of Alexander II is mixed - despite emancipating the serfs, he laid upon them a great burden in the form of redemption dues. Alexander II’s death did result in a reactionary government under Alexander III, but this reactionism, and the problems it later caused for Nicholas II, may not be sufficient enough to explain the reasons for the downfall of the Romanovs in 1917.




Sources and Additional Information: