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1120 Breaching a Contract

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,021 – Mental Disorders.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,021. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast and download the Learning Guide for this episode. What is the Learning Guide? Well, I’m glad you asked. The Learning Guide contains a complete transcript of everything I say on this episode – well, everything that Lucy and I say on this episode. The Learning Guide also contains vocabulary, definitions, sample sentences, cultural notes, and other interesting information to help you understand this episode. Go to our website for more information.

This episode is about mental disorders – problems that people have psychologically, mentally. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Dr. Miao: At Berthiaume College, we take mental health issues very seriously. That’s why we have so many mental health services on campus.

Dean: Such as?

Dr. Miao: Well, for example, there is a meeting tonight of our support group for anorexics and bulimics. Tomorrow night, I’ll be speaking to a group of students about depression to make them aware of the warning signs.

Dean: Those are very important issues.

Dr. Miao: Yes, they are. In this student health center, we see cases ranging from social anxiety disorder to schizophrenia. In addition to serious mental disorders, college students are at risk of developing many types of antisocial behaviors resulting from the pressures of college and the stress of being on their own.

Dean: I know what you mean. One of my roommates copes with stress by binge drinking. My other roommate has become obsessive-compulsive. You should see how clean our apartment is.

Dr. Miao: And you? How have you been dealing with the stress?

Dean: Me? I think I’m the only well-adjusted one in the group.

Dr. Miao: Are you sure? You seem to have developed a nervous habit of pulling your hairs out one at a time.

Dean: What?! No, I haven’t.

Dr. Miao: Denying you have a problem is often a sign that you have a problem.

Dean: That’s crazy!

Dr. Miao: Shh! We don’t use the c-word here. Come with me.

[end of dialogue]

Dr. Miao opens our dialogue by saying, “At Berthiaume College, we take mental health issues very seriously. “Mental health issues” refers to problems that someone may have due to psychological or emotional issues, things that perhaps relate to how well they react to stress or to difficult situations. “Mental health” is a general term referring to one’s psychological and emotional wellness or well-being. Dr. Miao works at a college, “Berthiaume College.” She says, “that’s why we have so many mental health services on campus.” Dr. Miao is talking to a student named Dean.

Dean wants to know what kind of mental health issues Dr. Miao is talking about. Dr. Miao says, “Well, for example, there is a meeting tonight of our support group for anorexics and bulimics.” A “support group” is a group of people who get together who all have the same problem, either a physical or a mental problem. One of the most famous support group structures in the U.S. and around the world is “Alcoholics Anonymous.” Alcoholics Anonymous is a group of people who get together in their community or their neighborhood to help each other with their problem of alcoholism.

This is a “support group for anorexics and bulimics,” however. “Anorexic” (anorexic) is an adjective used to describe a person who suffers from something called “anorexia nervosa,” which is a mental illness that causes you to eat very little and to exercise a lot in order to lose weight, but you do it to an extreme extent so that you become too thin, and in some cases, tragically, you may even die from this disorder. A “bulimic” (bulimic) is a person who suffers from something called “bulimia,” which is when you eat a lot of food and then you basically vomit it up – you throw it up – in order to maintain or lose weight.

“Tomorrow night,” Dr. Miao continues, “I’ll be speaking to a group of students about depression to make them aware of the warning signs.” “Depression” (depression) is a long period of feeling sad, often associated with lack of energy and lack of motivation. A “lack (lack) of” something means you don’t have any. So, you don’t have any energy or you don’t have any motivation – or at least, not enough to do what you need to get done.

Dr. Miao is going to talk to this group of students about the warning signs of depression. A “warning sign” is an indication that there is a problem. So, if you start gaining weight suddenly, and within a month or two, you’re 10 or 20 pounds heavier than you should be, that might be a warning sign that there’s something wrong with either the way you are eating or perhaps some problem that you are having in your body – some physical issue.

Dean says, “Those are very important issues” (the issues that Dr. Miao just mentioned). Dr. Miao continues. She says, “Yes, they are. In this student health center we see cases ranging from social anxiety disorder to schizophrenia.” “Social anxiety disorder” is a condition that causes you to fear being around other people because you are perhaps afraid of being embarrassed or of not being as good as the people around you.

“Schizophrenia” (schizophrenia) is also a mental disorder. This one is related to making it difficult or impossible for you to know what is real and what is imaginary. People with schizophrenia often react to other people and situations in strange ways because they’re imagining things that aren’t actually real. Dr. Miao is talking about the student health center at the college. A “student health center” would be a place where students go to get medical attention, to get medical help. This kind of medical help has to do with mental health.

Dr. Miao continues, “In addition to serious mental disorders, college students are at risk of developing many types of antisocial behaviors resulting from the pressures of college and the stress of being on their own.” Now, let’s break that down and talk about what that sentence means. Dr. Miao is saying that “college students are at risk of developing” certain behaviors. “To be at risk of” something means that you might be in danger of getting that thing. There is a possibility that something bad will happen to you.

The bad thing that will happen to college students is that they will develop “antisocial behaviors.” “Antisocial (antisocial) behavior” is a way of acting that doesn’t show consideration of the people around you. It’s a way of acting that may make you mean to or hurt other people around you. The word “antisocial” is also used to describe people who don’t like being around other people. I think I’m antisocial, actually. Anyway, Dr. Miao says that college students are at risk of developing these types of antisocial behaviors.

Dean says, “I know what you mean,” meaning I understand what you are saying. “One of my roommates copes with stress by binge drinking.” A “roommate” is someone that shares a room or an apartment with you. “To cope (cope) with” something means to be able to handle or deal with a difficult and challenging situation. We use this expression – this phrasal verb “to cope with” something – when we are talking about someone who has to deal with a difficult situation. “Binge (binge) drinking” is when you drink a lot of alcohol in a very short amount of time.

“My other roommate,” Dean continues, “has become obsessive-compulsive.” “To be obsessive (obsessive) – compulsive (compulsive)” is to be concerned often about very small things. When you are obsessive about something, you’re constantly thinking about it. Normally, when we talk about someone being obsessive-compulsive, we’re talking about someone who perhaps repeats certain behaviors over and over again. They may wash their hands a hundred times in order to make sure they are clean. That would perhaps be an example of an obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Dean says that his roommate has become obsessive-compulsive. He says, “You should see how clean our apartment is.” That expression “you should see” means this is a very good example – I am giving you a good example, and if you actually went to my apartment and saw it, you would understand what I’m talking about. We’ll often use that expression “you should see” when we are giving an example similar to what the other person said, and perhaps even a better case of whatever the phenomenon you’re talking about is than the person gave you.

So, someone may say, “Well, my brother is really lazy,” and you may say to that person, “Well, you should see my brother – he doesn’t even get up in the morning.” You’re giving that person an example of that situation or that phenomenon that is perhaps even a better example of what you are talking about than what the other person gave. So, Dr. Miao is giving examples of conditions, mental disorders, and Dean is saying he understands what Dr. Miao is talking about and then gives her some examples from his own personal experience.

Dr. Miao then asks Dean, “And you? How have you been dealing with the stress?” Dean says, “Me? I think I’m the only well-adjusted one in the group.” “To be well-adjusted” is to be normal – to be adapted to some situation and to behave in a way that is appropriate and acceptable. Dr. Miao says, “Are you sure? You seem to have developed a nervous habit of pulling your hairs out one at a time.” Dr. Miao is saying that Dean has a nervous habit. A “habit” is something you do over and over again.

You may have a habit of brushing your teeth every morning. That’s a good habit. A “nervous habit” is something you do, perhaps even without realizing it, because you are nervous – because you are, perhaps, under stress. I have a nervous habit. I tap my feet. I take my foot and I pound it against the ground. My wife absolutely hates my nervous habit. She’s always telling me to stop tapping my feet. “To tap” (tap) is to move your foot up and down so that it hits the floor or the ground.

Anyway, enough about my mental problems – back to our dialogue. Dr. Miao is telling Dean that he has this nervous habit of pulling out his hairs one at a time – taking the hair, I’m guessing (I’m hoping) on his head and pulling it out. Dean says, “What?! No, I haven’t,” meaning he has not developed this nervous habit. Dr. Miao says, “Denying you have a problem is often a sign that you have a problem.” “To deny” (deny) something is to say that something is not true, to say that it doesn’t exist.

Dr. Miao is saying that Dean is denying that he has a problem, and that when you say you don’t have a problem, this is a sign that you have a problem. This is something that psychologists like to say and that has sort of entered into the general public view of mental disorders or problems: people who deny they have a problem have a problem.

Of course, the other possibility is that a person who denies he has a problem doesn’t have a problem, but we live in a world now affected by psychological theory, and this is one that at least is popular among a lot of people – that denying the problem means perhaps that you actually have that problem. And I’m sure that happens, as well.

Dean says, “That’s crazy.” Dr. Miao says, “Shh! We don’t use the c-word here. Come with me.” Dean is reacting to Dr. Miao’s statement, saying that she’s crazy, she’s out of her head, she’s nuts. “Crazy” is a very negative way to describe someone who may have a mental disorder.

So, Dr. Miao says, “We don’t use the c-word here.” The “c-word” here means crazy. When there’s a word or a term that you don’t want to say out loud, you can use an expression or a phrase like this by just using the first letter of the word. It’s usually a word that is a bad word or that you don’t want to talk about or say out loud, perhaps because it is rude or unacceptable.

So, someone might say, “I got in trouble by saying the f-word in school.” The “f-word” refers to a word that begins with “F” and in this case is considered a very bad word to say in English. It’s a four-letter word that ends with “K.” You probably have heard it. So, that phrase has become popular now when people want to mention a word without actually saying the word, and that’s what Dr. Miao is doing here.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Dr. Miao: At Berthiaume College, we take mental health issues very seriously. That’s why we have so many mental health services on campus.

Dean: Such as?

Dr. Miao: Well, for example, there is a meeting tonight of our support group for anorexics and bulimics. Tomorrow night, I’ll be speaking to a group of students about depression to make them aware of the warning signs.

Dean: Those are very important issues.

Dr. Miao: Yes, they are. In this student health center, we see cases ranging from social anxiety disorder to schizophrenia. In addition to serious mental disorders, college students are at risk of developing many types of antisocial behaviors resulting from the pressures of college and the stress of being on their own.

Dean: I know what you mean. One of my roommates copes with stress by binge drinking. My other roommate has become obsessive-compulsive. You should see how clean our apartment is.

Dr. Miao: And you? How have you been dealing with the stress?

Dean: Me? I think I’m the only well-adjusted one in the group.

Dr. Miao: Are you sure? You seem to have developed a nervous habit of pulling your hairs out one at a time.

Dean: What?! No, I haven’t.

Dr. Miao: Denying you have a problem is often a sign that you have a problem.

Dean: That’s crazy!

Dr. Miao: Shh! We don’t use the c-word here. Come with me.

[end of dialogue]

Our scriptwriter is definitely the most well-adjusted person here at the Center for Educational Development. Her name is Dr. Lucy Tse. Thank you, Lucy.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
contractor – a person who provides or coordinates services, especially for a construction or remodeling project

* The contractor said he’d finish the bathroom addition within one month, but it has already been two months and it doesn’t look anywhere close to being finished.

to install – to put a structure or piece of equipment in place and connect it to other devices so that it works properly

* If you buy your home theater here, our technicians will help you install it when it is delivered.

to dodge – to avoid someone or something; to find a way to not deal with someone or something

* A good customer service representative never dodges a customer’s complaints, but instead says, “I’m so sorry that happened. What can I do to fix the problem?”

to pay (someone) in full – to pay the full amount due to a person, often before the product or service has been delivered; to pay 100% of the amount owed

* Never pay a plumber in full until you’re completely satisfied with his or her work.

breach of contract – a violation of the terms and conditions of a legal agreement, especially one that could lead to an early end to the agreement

* Failing to give a tenant 30 day’s notice is a breach of contract.

recourse – something one can do in a difficult or challenging situation, but not one’s first choice of action

* If you disagree with the city’s decision on your application, your only recourse is to appeal to the state governor.

to take (someone) to court – to sue someone; to file an official complaint against someone in a court of law, especially with the expectation of receiving money

* The child actress took her parents to court, saying that they kept too much of her earnings for themselves.

to settle (something) out of court – to find a solution or reach an agreement without involving an official legal decision made by a judge

* The company was accused of selling dangerous cars, but it settled out of court with drivers for an undisclosed amount.

I don’t blame you – a phrase meaning that one understands another’s position or statement, but may not fully agree with it

* I don’t blame you for being angry. If I were in your position, I would feel the same way, but it is always better to forgive and move on.

to hide out – to hide; to stay away from other people and not allow oneself to be found, especially because one has done something wrong and does not want to deal with the consequences

* The criminals are hiding out, but the police will find them eventually.

to wash (one’s) hands of – to refuse to be involved in something or accept responsibility for it; to indicate that one has nothing to do with something

* If you make this decision on your own, I wash my hands of all responsibility for what happens next.

to sue – to take someone to court; to ask a court of law to make an official decision about whether one has broken the law

* The police officer was sued for threatening an innocent member of the community.

to compel – to persuade; to make someone do something, or to present a convincing reason for someone to do something

* What compelled you to put all of your savings into this untried business?

all the more reason – an even better or more persuasive reason or motivation for doing something

* A: It’s going to take forever to clean the garage – it’s so disorganized!

B: That’s all the more reason to start early tomorrow morning.

attorney – lawyer; a person who has studied the law and represents people and organizations in legal matters

* When their baby was born, they worked with an attorney to write a will.

to collect damages – to receive money as compensation for another person’s harmful or damaging actions as a result of a legal decision

* Tenants are rarely able to collect damages from landlords who don’t refund their security deposit, because the cost of taking them to court is much higher than the security deposit itself.

divorce – the legal end to a marriage

* They stayed married for 20 years, but as soon as their children moved out of the house, they filed for divorce.

Comprehension Questions
1. What was the contractor’s breach of contract?
a) She didn’t sign the contract.
b) She didn’t complete the work she was paid for.
c) She took too long to finish the work.

2. What does Antonin mean when he says, “I’m a divorce attorney”?
a) He isn’t licensed to practice in the state where Sandra lives.
b) His fees are too high for Sandra to pay him.
c) He has a specialty that’s unrelated to Sandra’s problem.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to dodge

The verb, “to dodge,” in this podcast, means to avoid someone or something, or to find a way to not deal with someone or something: “Peter crashed his Dad’s car, and now he’s trying to dodge any punishment by lying about what happened.” The phrase “to dodge military service” or “to dodge the draft” means to find a way to not perform mandatory (required) military service: “Blake moved from the United States to Canada to try to dodge military service.” Finally, “dodge ball” is a game played in elementary and junior high schools, with two teams on either side of the gym or a field, throwing balls to try to hit other people and get them “out”: “Justin has a big bruise on his side from where he was hit with a ball while playing dodge ball at school on Monday.”

all the more reason

In this podcast, the phrase “all the more reason” means an even better or more persuasive reason or motivation for doing something: “Larry didn’t want to talk to the woman because she was too beautiful, but we convinced him by saying, ‘That’s all the more reason to ask her out on a date!’” The phrase “within reason” means in moderation, or within certain limits: “Eating chocolate and coffee can be good for you – within reason.” The phrase “no reason” is sometimes used as a vague (not specific) response when one doesn’t want to provide an explanation: “When we asked Randall why he was buying so much soap, he said, ‘No reason.’” Finally, the phrase “no rhyme or reason” is used when there is no apparent explanation for something: “Linda started dancing in the middle of the office presentation, for no rhyme or reason.”

Culture Note
The Uniform Commercial Code

In the United States, each state has its own set of laws. Normally this “autonomy” (ability to make decisions for oneself) allows the “residents” (people who live somewhere) of each state to “shape” (form; influence) society to match their “values” (beliefs), but when dealing with “interstate” (between states, not within each state) “commerce” (buying and selling goods and services), the differences in state laws can be “problematic” (troublesome).

The “Uniform Commercial Code” (UCC) is a set or group of guidelines or rules that was first published in 1952 as a way of dealing with such problems. It tries to “harmonize” (help things work together in a better, smoother way with fewer problems) state laws “governing” (controlling) sales throughout the United States. The UCC “attempts” (tries) to “establish” (create) common or shared definitions of terms and simplify interstate commerce. It is organized into eleven “articles” (sections) covering sales, “leases” (rental agreements), “funds” (money) transfers, “letters of credit” (loans), “title documents” (documents that prove ownership of land or property), and more.

The UCC is not a “federal” (national) law. Rather, it is a set of rules that the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the American Law Institute recommend to states. They ask states to “adopt” (accept) the UCC and make the UCC part of their state laws. All 50 U.S. states have done so, but some of them have “adapted” (made small changes) to UCC to better meet their needs – so it is still not an entirely “uniform” (the same everywhere) set of rules.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - c