The friendship between Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett seemed unlikely to me at first. Not only are they very different singers—she’s a kooky, edgy pop icon, he was an old-time, traditional, middle-of-the-road singer—but there was an age difference. Sixty years between them!
I suspected it was all a cynical PR stunt concocted by music executives; some clever ploy to increase record sales or open up new audiences for both of them. How wrong I was.
Following Bennett’s death last month, it’s clear they had a long, lasting, and very deep friendship.
Each appeared in awe of the other: he spellbound by her all-round talent, she by her vocal ability. But more than anything, they seemed to love spending time together.
After Bennett’s death, Lady Gaga shared an emotional tribute to her friend. She urged the younger generation to “take care of her older ones.” She is correct. I am a big believer in intergenerational friendships.
I have a very dear friend named Christine, one of my best friends, in fact, who is in her late 70s. We have known each other for 25 years and during that time I have come to appreciate the relationship.
The friendship between Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett seemed unlikely to me at first. Pictured at the Grammy Awards in 2015
We met when I was a gangly 20-year-old medical student and a fledgling journalist working alongside her. She was worried that my meager student budget meant she wasn’t eating enough, so she would take me out for a splendid afternoon tea.
She was glamorous, accomplished and sophisticated and I was quite in awe of her, touched that she wanted to spend some time with me. Christine had a tremendous influence, encouraging me with my writing and medical career.
He offered sage advice and guidance, love and friendship, he still does. She has taught me a lot and I hope that in turn I have been a good, loyal and loving friend to her.
That there are several decades between us is, I think, what makes our friendship so special. We have a lot to learn from each other.
In the past we lived in close-knit communities, side by side with different generations. But in the modern world, communities and families have fractured.
Following Bennett’s death last month, it’s clear they had a long, lasting, and very deep friendship. Photographed in 2015
Studies show that intergenerational friendships benefit both young and old people, and these benefits are quite distinct from the positive effects of friendship in general.
Researchers have found that intergenerational friendships foster empathy and understanding in society.
They help challenge ageism and allow others to see different perspectives. There is also good evidence that, for younger people, an age-gap friendship can help combat the scourge of comparing themselves to others.
Instead, they can focus on the big picture and avoid the pitfall of competing. It’s certainly true that our peers can sometimes pigeonhole us, placing limitations and expectations on our shoulders. This is much less likely to happen in intergenerational friendships.
I have a very dear friend named Christine, one of my best friends, in fact, who is in her late 70s.
An older friend can give you perspective on the challenges you will inevitably face in life, love, and work.
Whereas for older people, a young friend can take years off of them, both physically and mentally.
They are encouraged to try new things, to break habits and routines, which according to studies can have a positive effect on stimulating brain function. It helps them feel connected to the world, valued, and useful.
So yes, there is a lot of evidence of the benefits.
But I am aware that this sounds a bit transactional. The reality is that having a friend of a different age is a positive and life-affirming experience.
My own life is so much richer for having had Christine all these years. Something that Tony Bennett’s friend Lady Gaga also acknowledged.
an NHS doctor who grabbed a nurse down the throat and he demanded his number has been suspended from the medical record. why wasn’t it He hit? people have to put an extraordinary trust in doctors how can anyone who behaves like this keep working with the sick, frail and vulnerable.
My take on THAT Costa ad
The debate over trans rights is surprisingly polarized, but as a psychiatrist I can’t pretend not to have an opinion on the furore over Costa’s ad showing a person having her breasts removed.
While surgery is presented as something to celebrate, the same is not true of therapy. In fact, there have been several attempts to ban trans therapy, claiming that it is “conversion therapy.”
While surgery is presented as something to celebrate, the same is not true of therapy.
Trans issues are very complex, but I find it strange that we would embrace something as permanent and risky as surgery and hormones to treat gender dysphoria, but not therapy.
I am aware of the damage gay conversion therapy can cause. But the issues are very different.
You don’t need surgery to be gay. You do not need medical intervention at all. But the problem for trans people is that their gender causes them angst.
One way to address this might be surgery, but another way is by talking. It seems obvious to me that before you start removing and sculpting body parts, would it be wise to see if therapy might help instead?
Dr. David Bell, an eminent psychiatrist and former head of Tavistock, was very concerned about the girls and young women who were referred, convinced they were trans.
Many of them had mental health problems, a history of abuse, or emotional problems; however, these issues were not fully explored. A government review found that a third of children referred to Tavistock had autism or neurodiversity.
One study found that two-thirds of girls who identified as trans had been diagnosed with a mental disorder and nearly half had previously said they were not heterosexual.
There is concern that homophobia, misogyny, or the hypersexualization of women in pornography may also be factors causing gender angst.
Shouldn’t we at least allow people the option to explore the issues related to their gender dysphoria before going under a surgeon’s knife?
Dr Max prescribes… A stress monitor
The idea is that by helping you recognize stressful periods you can learn to manage them better.
This device not only monitors the heart rate, but also the activity of the sweat glands to control stress levels.
The idea is that by helping you recognize stressful periods, you can learn to better manage them.
When the tracker detects high levels of stress, it vibrates to encourage you to take a break and do a relaxation exercise. From around £400, (nowatch.com).