- a collection of notes and reflections on urban living from the perspective of a family of five in Tokyo. My epiphany was many years ago, but being hit by a motorbike and seeing my life flash before my eyes caused a sudden change that slowly made me reflect on whether American style auto-centric urban transportation of the Roosevelt era really is a capital G "Good Idea" for civilized modern cities in the 21st Century. This blog explores the good and the bad in urban planning and design, here and elsewhere. The goal is simple - not "death to all cars," just more walkable communities, quiet tree-lined streets, good public transport, traffic calming, Velib style bicycle sharing and a bit of common sense. The bolg is mostly theraputic, so I don't go wanting to throttle every dangerous driver I come across, but partly also out of a real desire to see positive change. This blog explores how it can be done, the people who do it, and how, in many small ways, this very old idea may at last have found its zeitgeist. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

The old adage "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" may not hold true for much longer...

Apparently a "promising" treatment for PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) is gaining a certain degree of popularity around the world. The treatment combines psychotherapy with psychotropic drugs. Basically patients, quite often traffic accident victims, are repeatedly exposed to the experiences -the sights and sounds of the events that haunt them causing the stress. But rather than getting hurt, being exposed to pain or the threat of injury, they are instead sent sky high on drugs in total comfort and safety. The idea is to disassociate the negative outcome from the ordeal in order to reduce the stress.

Without wishing to detract from the gravety of the disorder for many patients, something about the whole thing sounds distinctly distopian. Worse, it could conceivably reduce the persons feeling of danger if placed in such situations again. In the context of traffic accident victims for example people would essentially be encouraged to forget their ordeal until they think everything is peachy again, and that cars are cool - even the one that almost killed them in the first place. Plus, I can imagine if victims are habitually treated in this way, they are not likely to devote themselves to fighting for justice later - whether that be advocating car-free streets, pushing for laws against rape or sexual harrassment or whatever.

I don't know. I have been a victim of a serious road crash and frankly, I would rather remember it for the nasty experience it was. Sure, the ubiquitous sound of traffic will never be the same - and good thing too. You know what they say - once bitten, twice shy.

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