Kathleen M. Pike, PhD

What interests you?

#FearlessSquad

Earthquakes, mass shootings, Zika virus… The world can feel like a pretty scary place sometimes, especially when we are feeling vulnerable in our personal lives. In fact, we are hardwired to experience fear, and if we didn’t know fear, we

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Rescue

Last night was the annual gala for the International Rescue Committee (IRC). It was a grand but bittersweet celebration. I was inspired by refugees who shared their stories of forging on and creating new lives with IRC support. I was

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Born to Be Wild

Get your motor runnin’ | Head out on the highway | Lookin’ for adventure | And whatever comes our way …  I am a pop culture midget and even I know this song by Steppenwolf. What makes this sixties classic so

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#MeToo

Hollywood mega-mogul Harvey Weinstein made headlines this week. Not for another great film. No, this time we are watching a documentary in the making. Weinstein’s decades-long story of sexually exploitative and violent behavior against women is spewing from every media

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Mental Health in the Workplace

From the basement work cubicle to the c-suite corner office, mental health problems are everywhere in the workplace. Hiding in plain sight, people generally suffer in secrecy and in silence. This past Tuesday, October 10th, was World Mental Health Day 2017 –

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Las Vegas: 58/489

The massacre that occurred in Las Vegas on Sunday evening at the Route 91 Harvest Festival killed 58 people and injured 489 others. In and of itself, it is tragic. Placed in the larger context of violence in America, it

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Shared Roots

Coinciding with the setting of the sun tonight, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar begins: Yom Kippur. It is a day of fasting, reflection and introspection. Metaphorically, within a 24 hour period, the gates will open or close and

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Let Me Hear Your Voice

This past Tuesday, while millions of citizens in Mexico were going about their daily routine, another earthquake struck. This one registered 7.1 on the Richter Scale, and as compared to the earthquake that struck the country just two weeks ago,

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Five Cool Mental Health Terms

Talking about our innermost thoughts and feelings can be challenging – at least in part because sometimes we can’t find the words. Well, it is the start of a new school year in the northern hemisphere, so in that spirit,

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Mental Illness is a Family Affair

We tend to think that mental illnesses affect individuals – with diagnoses and treatments focused on the person who is symptomatic. Necessary – but not sufficient. I dare say, the burden of mental illness always extends beyond the individual with

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Vacation

Cool, new start-ups have no restrictions on vacation – but they have no vacation policy either. The paradoxical effect is that people are taking less vacation rather than more, which is not good for our mental health. So, in defense of

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Solar Eclipse

August 21, 2017. Brief but breathtaking. The sun and moon aligned just so. A solar eclipse that extended across the continental United States. Millions along the path of 100% totality, millions more seeing the partial eclipse. As I watched from

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Happy 103rd Birthday, Lucy Ozarin!

Lucy Ozarin – one of the first women psychiatrists to serve in the Navy and one of only seven women psychiatrists to serve during World War II – turns 103 today! I had heard all kinds of superlatives about Lucy

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Mentally Ill in Ancient Rome

In the 1953 romantic comedy, Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck fall crazy in love with each other and with Rome. They take us on a magical escapade from Trevi Fountain to the Mouth of Truth and the Coliseum.

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Soldier On?

When Senator John McCain’s office announced last week that he has brain cancer, politicians on both sides of the aisle cheered him on with battle cries extolling his fighting spirit and hailing his prospects for winning the war against his disease. Personal

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Suntanning and Mental Health

What can suntanning teach us about our brains and addiction? I was at the dermatologist this week. “Sun damage,” she said with that somber look of authority that was designed to get me to stay out of the sun and

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Columbia Students Go Global

Today’s news is replete with lamentations about how Millennials are destroying the good life – from golf to NFL to paper napkins. They are even accused of ruining vacation, Great Britain and sex. I don’t know who the reporters are talking to, but

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Memory Making and Erasing

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”  – Gabriel García Márquez Every day experiences accumulate to make up the memories that define who we are and what we call

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Stewardship, the G20 & Honey Bees

Stewardship is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something.” With more than 20 heads of state and government in Hamburg for the G20 Summit, the world is depending on these political leaders

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Your Words Matter

Dear Mr. President: Your words matter, and your words trouble me. It is true that sometimes people say things without thinking. We have all blurted out words that we wish we could take back. But, Mr. President, do you not

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What is Your Domino?

A brutal civil war in South Sudan has over 3 million people on the run according to David Milliband, president of the International Rescue Committee. In Yemen, a cholera outbreak puts many more at risk. The resilience demonstrated by impacted

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Nike.

Part Belgian Malinois, part Rhodesian Ridgeback, all Rescue. Nike came to us cowering, quivering, and showing behaviors of an abused and abandoned pup. Now more than two years later, she is a loyal spirit who in a nanosecond can go

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That Way Madness Lies…

Shakespeare was the master of tragedy. And King Lear is the quintessential tragic hero. Driven to madness by a cosmic collision of errors and misfortune, King Lear laments, “O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; No more of

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False Dichotomies

William of Ockham was a 14th century Franciscan friar and scholar credited with establishing that scientific models should prioritize simplicity and parsimony when trying to understand the complex world in which we live. This principle, referred to as Occam’s Razor,

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Music, Mental Health, and Mother’s Day

Hearing the first notes of our favorites songs, our hearts skip a beat, memories are triggered of moments, places, and life milestones. We think of lovers, friends, and family, people gone and people in our present lives. Music is unique

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Five Boro Bike Tour

The mental health benefits of exercise are well documented. The power of community to promote healing are profound. The energy and vision of upcoming generations to address the wicked complexities of mental illness infuses in me a hope and confidence

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Title IX is About More than Sports

In 1972, Title IX was passed. It states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or

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World Health Day 2017: Depression Let’s Talk

Remember how I mentioned that I love birthdays and anniversaries? Today is the 69th birthday of the World Health Organization (WHO). Founded on 7 April 1948, WHO has the unique constitutional mandate to build a better, healthier future for people all

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Botero’s Buxom Bodies & Eating Disorders

I was in Colombia recently and had the opportunity to go to the Botero museum in Bogota. Colombian artist, Fernando Botero, has a style that is unique in its neo-figurative depiction of forms that are rotund and bulging in both

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Happy 1st Anniversary Five on Friday!

Anyone who knows me, knows I love marking milestones like birthdays and anniversaries. So today, I am happy to celebrate with you the first anniversary of Five on Friday. A year ago I launched this blog with the aim of

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The surgery was a success. So why do I feel so bad?

Feeling nervous about surgery is normal and expected. But post-operative depression, a common and serious condition, is hardly acknowledged. How come? In the US alone, 60,000 people undergo general anesthesia for surgery every day. Recently my dad was one of

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Celebrating International Women’s Day 2017

International Women’s Day dates back 100 years to 8 March 1917 when women textile workers demonstrated in the Russian capital city of Petrograd for improved work conditions and better pay. Before the night was over, protests filled the entire city.

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Have you ever been to Geel?

Have you ever been to Geel? Neither have I. But Geel, a small town in Belgium, has recently moved to the top of my list of places to visit. It is not famous for its beaches or art museums, but rather

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What’s Your Favorite Comfort Food?

Earlier this month, my son, David, opened a ramen restaurant across from the Johns Hopkins University bookstore in Baltimore. PekoPeko Ramen serves steaming bowls of noodles to hungry and sometimes stressed or tired college students and locals. Having grown up in

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Love is EleMENTAL

This week, on Valentine’s Day, friends and supporters of the Global Mental Health Program attended the new Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen. I was awed by its ability to evoke emotions that lie at the heart of our human experience.

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Have You Had “The Conversation?”

My mother turned 85 last month. Sitting at lunch to celebrate, we had a conversation about how she wants to live this last chapter of her life, how she wants to die, and even what music she wants when people

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Polio, Students, and the Long Haul

Sometimes the challenges in global mental health can seem insurmountable, with more than 90% of people who need treatment not receiving care in some areas of the world. But mental health isn’t the only global health condition that has had

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I Have a Dream

August 28, 1963, standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr delivered his legendary “I have a dream” speech at the “March on Washington.” This past Monday we celebrated MLK Day, today was the presidential inauguration, and tomorrow there

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One Year Old

My great nephew, Ethan, turned one yesterday and we are celebrating at Disney World. Yes: Disney World. For months, friends and colleagues have said that this was a crazy idea. “He’s too young!” “He’ll never remember anything!” I demurred and abdicated

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Can you really die from a broken heart?

Last week brought the death of Star Wars Princess Leia. In real life, Carrie Fisher not only was a famous actress and writer but also a tireless mental health advocate, speaking out with uncommon candor and self-effacing humor about her lifelong struggles with bipolar disorder and addiction. The

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5-7-5

5-7-5: The number of syllables in the classic 3-line Japanese haiku made famous centuries ago by Japanese poet, Basho. As much as it is a constraint, this parsimony forces the poet to ponder what matters most. And with a distilled

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(No) Home for the Holidays

Last week, I picked up my daughter, Julia, after her last final. Yesterday, Ben arrived home. They have completed their first semesters at university. We are looking forward to potato latkes and champagne toasts with their older brothers and extended

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Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

In 2006, Harvard Professor Richard Frank and Columbia Professor Sherry Glied published Better But Not Well. Taking into consideration economics, treatment, living standards, rights, and stigma, they came to the conclusion that wellbeing improved for people with mental illness in

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John Glenn, American Hero

John Glenn, American Hero, departed this earth one last time this week. His life followed the story line of the classic Hero’s Journey – a classic three-part narrative where the individual sets out on an adventure into something unknown, faces a decisive

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Stories that Inspire

Newspaper headlines and breaking news on CNN are dominated by the drama of crisis and disaster. When we rely on this coverage to tell the story of mental illness, we are led to believe that the majority of people with

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Thanksgiving is my favorite American holiday, and from the time I was a little girl, the day started with big brass marching bands, acrobats, floats from the latest Broadway shows, and oversized balloons of Charlie Brown, Mickey Mouse, and other

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Spanking as a Cure for Mental Illness?

Last night, as I was having dinner with several dear friends and members of our Global Mental Health Program’s International Advisory Board, the conversation found its way to the topic of mental illness. It is true that we do not

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It’s Not What I Imagined…

I am going to just put it out there. The election tally did not end the way I imagined, and the result has rocked my world. I am joined by about half of America, and for the other half things

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Separate but (Not) Equal

“She is still really sick; they can’t send her home…,” a desperate mom said to me by phone last week. Her daughter has anorexia nervosa. She has spent four days in inpatient treatment. Now her insurance company was ready to

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Painkillers are Killing Us

This week, John Oliver featured Opioid addiction on his Emmy Award winning show, Last Week Tonight. The story, which got lots of Twitter love, brought to light how prescribing practices and pharmaceutical advertising have contributed to the current opioid epidemic.

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#NotOkay: Sobering Stats on Sexual Violence

In the days after The Washington Post released audio of a United States presidential candidate boasting about behavior that most agree went far beyond “locker room talk,” millions of sexual assault survivors have been sharing their stories – 27 million in

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Bees!

The Appius melliferous, commonly known as the honeybee, has been disappearing in recent years. Reports of colony collapse disorder have set off alarms around the globe, prompting a movement in backyard beekeeping. After years of watching and wishing, I became

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I’ve Made Up My Mind…

This week, joining more than 84 million viewers worldwide, I watched Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off for their first US presidential debate. My purported rationale for tuning in? To learn more about the candidates’ platforms. The truth? Like

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Born to Run

It has been quite a week for mental health – from the Emmys to the UN General Assembly to the release of Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run. Important mental health issues and milestones abound, and the lyrics of Springsteen’s

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Why Cry?

It happened last week. I was doing just fine and then I had a very difficult conversation. First my voice cracked, then the tears started. Not one of those big, snotty cries laced with gasps for breath, but there were

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Remembering 9/11… and Other Memorials

Everyone old enough to remember, remembers exactly where they were 15 years ago on September 11th when planes came crashing into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. I was living in Japan and heard about the first plane

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Whistle While You Work

This Monday is Labor Day in the United States. Marking the unofficial end of summer, it makes for a long weekend and serves as the last hurrah for backyard BBQs. But its real purpose, when it was designated as a

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Michael Bloomberg Named WHO Ambassador

Dear Mr. Bloomberg: Congratulations you on your recent appointment as Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases for the World Health Organization. You have proven yourself a global citizen extraordinaire through you industry leadership, public service, and philanthropy. As you sign on to

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Summer at the Seashore

In the northern hemisphere we are in the homestretch of less structured days, flip flops and fireflies before the start of school bus pickups and corduroys. Up and down the coasts, beaches are chock full of vacationers. Why is the seashore such a

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Going for the Gold

Arriving in Rio for the 2016 Olympics is a dream come true for thousands of athletes from around the world. We can see in their smiles and tears the culmination of years of intense dedication and are awed by their

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It’s All Fun and Games Until…

It’s all fun and games until… it’s an addiction: Two weeks ago I wrote about Pokemon Go, the global blockbuster interactive-reality game being played by millions, myself included. I heard from a number of you, saying: “Play is great, but

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What Did She Say?

While most politics may come down to a high pile of rhetoric (blah, blah, blah) – there’s a reason a newborn baby’s brain develops differently depending on what words it hears. We think with words, which is why pre-verbal memory

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Pokemon Go!

Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm and brought a little magic into our lives. “Oh, really?” “How silly!” Searching for a Jigglypuff, Pollywhirl, Charmander or taking a detour to work to pass by a PokeStop is viewed by

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Remembering Elie Wiesel

On the second of July we said goodbye to Elie Wiesel, one of the greatest humanitarians of our time. Born 30 September 1928 in Romania, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel bore witness to the “haunted universe” of Auschwitz and Buchenwald

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Landmark Resolution for Mental Health

Getting something passed unanimously by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is quite a coup. The fact that we’re talking about a Resolution on Mental Health and Human Rights, co-sponsored by 61 countries, is huge. What does it say? What does

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Fiction’s Truth Telling About Mental Illness

It was Albert Camus who said, “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” So it is that fictional characters like Tim, Etsuko, Em, Nkiru, and Solomon whose stories are highlighted below, and multitudes of others from around the world,

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We Are Orlando

Less than two weeks ago, we woke up to news of incomprehensible violence – this time in Orlando, Florida, whose claim to fame used to be theme parks. Now, Orlando will forever be known as the place where the Pulse

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Pomp and Circumstance

Okay, I admit I am a graduation junkie. I get choked up with the first notes of Pomp and Circumstance and my tissues are soggy by the time the newly anointed graduates toss their mortar boards with tassels in the

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Decibels Rising

More and more people are finding a way to talk about their experiences with mental illness. It is nothing short of a historic shift, and it’s happening locally and globally. Speaking up also requires listening more carefully; otherwise, as the

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

As Americans don their swim suits and dust off their bbq’s this weekend, it is worth noting that May is Mental Health Awareness month. Perhaps not a coincidence that May also ends with Memorial Day, which is a time to

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#ProtectYourGirls

I generally have little patience for underwear masquerading as fashion. This past Sunday was another story. I saw bras decorated with pom poms, covered with neon paint, and layered with buttons, pipe cleaners and paper mache and wished they were

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Patrick Roche, Spoken Word Poet

This past week Columbia Psychiatry hosted its annual Gray Matters Luncheon. With the Plaza ballroom filled to capacity, Patrick Roche silenced the clanking of silverware and even halted the checking of cell phone texts and emails with his vivid and

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This one’s for you, Mom!

Mothers: one way or another, we all have one. And the majority of women in the world will, one way or another, become one over the course of a lifetime. This Sunday is Mother’s Day in the US, and I

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Lessons From Prince and Other Royals

Last week, Prince, the beloved pop icon, died from what appears to be a drug overdose while Princess Kate, Prince William and Prince Harry lent royal support to The Heads Together campaign – reminding us that even those who seem invincible can be

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Passover: An Allegory for Psychotherapy

As the sun sets this evening, millions of Jewish people around the world will open the Passover Haggadah and recount the story of the exodus from Egypt – one of the most ancient, quintessential stories of the journey to freedom.

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Indaba South Africa

Indaba is a Zulu word that means gathering for purposeful discussion; a gathering of spirits, a meeting of friends, a sharing of dreams. I was 17 years old when I landed in Johannesburg, South Africa as an American Field Scholar in 1977; I

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Kenya’s “Big Five”

Africa’s Big Five typically refers to the great African lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros and leopard. I’ve got a different sort of Big Five to share with you from my day of traveling dirt roads in Kenya with colleagues from the Africa

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Why Five on Friday

In our family, we have a tradition of dinner together at home on Friday evenings. Personally, it gives me a chance to pause and pivot, to reflect and imagine after a busy week. What kind of week has it been?

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