I’m not busy. I’m on vacation.

Am enjoying the beauty and tranquility of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The drives through the countryside are refreshing and there’s a seemingly endless supply of wineries, vineyards and hydroponics. Fresh fruit is for sale everywhere.

Although there were some threatening, billowing, dark clouds earlier this morning, the sun is shining as I relax in my Holiday Inn Express hotel room.

I placed a sign outside my room which reads, ‘Hang on! I’m busy.’

In the old days, the sign used to say, ‘Do not disturb’ on one side and ‘Please clean room’ on the other.

Today, it reads, ‘Hang on! I’m busy’ on both sides!

The truth is that I’m not busy because I’m on vacation.

The venerable Chögyam Trungpa used to say that there is no such thing as a vacation because life is still happening. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean that you have an excuse to avoid life.

We couldn’t, for example, avoid seeing the tall, lanky, dark stranger with the bizarre, twisted ‘Joker’ grin walking down the regional road with cars zipping by and wondering. And we couldn’t avoid remembering that in spite of being surrounded by natural beauty we were still in the midst of a global pestilence.

But for me to say ‘Hang on! I’m busy’ in my hotel room (on both sides no less) is erroneous. It’s part of the old thinking which equates busyness with productivity and relaxation with sloth.

To relax is not to be slothful. Relaxation is a boon for body, mind, spirit and soul.

We are entering into a new era so perhaps the sign should read, ‘I’m relaxing now. Please clean the room later.’

Let’s Take it to the Next Level together,


Good Grief

Sometimes I feel like exclaiming, Good grief!, When will this pandemic end?

What I have noticed in my clients, though, is that the pandemic has afforded them the time to be on their own, reflect and grieve.

Good grieving is something that we have time to do during the pandemic. It’s one of the pluses of being at home.

Memories from the past resurge and we have the time to process them, something that was less likely before.

We may feel a tinge in our heart, followed by sadness, followed by letting go.

It’s important to let these memories surface and then leave our system energetically as well as verbally when we tell someone.

In his book, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, the renown psychiatrist Carl G. Jung discusses the concept of confession as being the first step in a psychic process that, ultimately, leads to transformation.

When we, for example, reveal our secrets to our analyst, we are confessing (expressing verbally) that which was previously concealed.

According to Jung, that which remains concealed—remains secret—leads to illness. In his own words, ‘To cherish secrets and to restrain emotions are psychic misdemeanours for which nature finally visits us with sickness ….’[1]

As a chaplain, I see physical illnesses that are manifestations of unresolved spiritual issues. I find that when the person shares their story with me (a kind of confession) and we pray together, they feel better and are able to release anger or sadness or perplexity.

It starts with ‘confession’ and all comes out.

To tell your truth to another human being is not easy and involves trust.

Tears may flow after which comes a release like no other.

We cannot move from one level to the next without having fully worked through our issues at the level we presently find ourselves.

We must confess before moving to Jung’s next steps of explanation, education, and transformation.

The model that I use in Take it to the Next Level, ‘Listen Recognize and Create’ (or Co-create) is similar to, but different from, the psychic process defined above.

Take it to the Next Level is all about you finding the knowledgeable, qualified person (mentor or spiritual coach) you’ve always been looking for to really listen to you, recognize the issue that is blocking you from advancing, and (together) create a plan to move forward.

In order to move up a level, we need to let go of our past. When we let go, we can ‘climb out and climb up’ a level.

The pandemic has forced us to let go of many things: we can’t go places we used to go; meet people we used to see; or engage in the distractions we used to engage in.

The pandemic has forced us to stay home and spend time with ourselves. This is a plus because it is only when we look at ourselves that we realize that we are no longer satisfied with the status quo. We realize that we want to change, want to move up a level.

We may have all the material things we could ever want, but our soul is crying out, telling us something is missing.

Let’s Take it to the Next Level together. Book your appointment today here,


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[1] C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul (New York: Harcourt, 1933), 34.

Dark Times, Open Heaven

I feel saturated, bombarded by Covid-19 news. What about you?

Dr. Neil Levitsky, a Toronto, Ontario psychiatrist, says we should be aware of pandemic news but limit how much we watch.[1] I agree.

We recently celebrated the First Sunday of Advent whose first candle represents hope. For Christians, this hope exemplifies both the Nativity and Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Christian theologian John Piper thinks that Christ should be the rock on which we lean in the midst of the pandemic, a pandemic which is opening a way for transformation.[2] I believe that this transformation is both personal and societal.

You may wonder, ‘Luba, how on earth can I take my life to the Next Level in the middle of so much insecurity, division and change?’ ‘Luba’, you may say, ‘people are dying, and you expect me to believe that there is a God and that this God cares about me?’

Yes, I do.

God works best in dark times because God’s light shines most then. These are precisely the times we’re living in.

Dark Times, Open Heaven

Many believe that, in spite of the dark times we’re in, we are also living under an open heaven which means that communication is actively happening between heaven and earth.[3]  

As bleak as things appear around us in the physical realm, as dark as the situation seems to be, as uncertain as our circumstances are, there is an ‘openness’ that covers us through which blessings come. This is the hope that I refer to in this piece.

God has a plan for each and every one of us. God’s plan for me was to leave Bulgaria, come to Canada and become a chaplain in war time.[4] Although we are not in a traditional war, we seem to be involved in a new kind of warfare, an invisible war with an invisible enemy, Covid-19.

God’s blessings will pour on us when—in the midst of this warlike atmosphere, a kind of protracted lent from pre-Covid-19 activities we took for granted—we remember God.

What is impossible—Next Level thinking—suddenly becomes possible in a step-by-step, day-by-day reliance on the knowledge that we are living under an open heaven that is ready to pour out its gifts on us so long as we accept the transformation that is required of us now.

‘You mean, Luba, that more is required of me than being careful and wearing a mask?’

Yes, I do.

I think that we’ve been given this time of ‘straightening’ as a reprieve. You can think of it as grace or a grace period that’s been given to us to get rid of all the extraneous things and relationships in our lives that are preventing us from rising in life, being the person we were always meant to be.

Open Heaven

An open heaven is clear, bright, gracious, and freeing. It accepts us with our foibles and is ever ready to provide and guide, caress and bless, help, and support, acknowledge and rebuke and love us. An open heaven is uncomplicated and balanced, ruled yet tolerant, and fundamentally good. An open heaven is filled with goodness. It is ready to cover you in an abundance of beauty and goodness in the midst of your pain and suffering.

Feeling a little anxious because of the pandemic? Unsure of what to do next? Perhaps you’ve just retired and don’t know what to do with the rest of your life? As an experienced chaplain in a first class retirement home and psychotherapy intern at the University of Toronto, I can help you.

Let’s Take it to the Next Level together. Book your appointment today,


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[1] Neil Levitsky, ‘COVID 19 coping strategies,’ YouTube, accessed online on December 1, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wn7mKyKwPDI.

[2] John Piper, ‘COVID-19,’ YouTube, accessed online on December 1, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgfu6JLB_XE&vl=en.

[3] Dr. James W. Goll, ‘What Really Happens in an Open Heaven?,’ Charisma, accessed online on December 1, 2020, https://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/22133-what-really-happens-in-an-open-heaven.

[4] Read the description on my website’s home page, https://lubarascheffconsultancy.com/.

Are You Focused or Other?

It used to be that when we opened our e-mail, there was one, monolithic column of e-mails to go through.

Now, there are two: Focused and Other.

It’s interesting and worth keeping an eye on because, in the future, perhaps there will be more columns or perhaps we, the so-called end users, will be given the ability to create columns of our own.

Whatever the case, if you want to Take it to the Next Level, you must be focused and nothing other.

To be focused means ruthlessly cutting out of your life anything that is a stopper toward growth, fulfilment, and joy. This kind of behavior will rub people the wrong way, but in the final analysis, it’s your life. We live in order to achieve a certain amount of success that is couched in quality of life.

The pandemic has forced us to focus more. In order to survive, we find ourselves prioritizing more. Do I go to the grocery store now or do I wait until tomorrow? What task is more important, blogging for my business or writing a reflection for class? In the end, we can do it all, but the key is to pace ourselves within a structured framework and not allow current circumstances to overwhelm us.

A steady pace

A structured framework and a steady pace are important  in maintaining balance these days. Keep your chin up, don’t despair, organize your affairs, and maintain your focus. Everything will be alright!

You must develop the ability to immediately separate the ‘wheat from the chaff,’ so to speak. Put aside—perhaps into the other column—that which does not merit your immediate attention, or never will.

The amount of junk mail that I find myself flooded with is amazing. Not a day goes by that someone isn’t trying to sell me something or promote an idea that is more fanciful than anything else. This is the bombardment of falseness that must be weeded out. In the end, the truth—represented by everything that is valid and true for us—prevails. Always.

Keep it simple

In our focused state—the only state that leads to attaining our goals—simplicity works best. When we do this, everything becomes clear—instantly.

Are you retired and perhaps feeling anxious or a little disconnected because of the pandemic? Unsure of what to do next? As an experienced chaplain in a first class retirement home and psychotherapy intern at the University of Toronto, I can help you.

Let’s Take it to the Next Level together. Book your appointment today,


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Can the Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorders Produce Positive, Life-Transforming Effects?

Can individuals diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorders (NPD) be treated psychoanalytically and move toward positive, life transforming treatment outcomes?

According to Austrian-born, American psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut, the answer is yes.[1]

In spite of the ravages that narcissism causes, I suggest that an alternative to abandoning the narcissist is possible. This alternative involves the person with NPD being treated by a Kohutian analyst and changing.

Contrary to Sigmund Freud (19th century), the father of psychoanalysis, Heinz Kohut (20th century) believed that certain forms of narcissism could be healthy and formed on an independent line of development. Whereas Freud thought that you could either love others (object love) or love yourself (narcissistic love) and placed them at opposing ends of one developmental pole, Kohut placed them on two.

Trouble Starts Early

According to Kohut’s theory of Self Psychology, healthy development happens when a child gradually—and phase appropriately—transmutes psychological structures (i.e., cathected narcissistic energies) from idealized objects such as the grand exhibitionistic self or the idealized parent imago to the central part of her budding psychological self.

When, however, trauma happens and the child experiences either disappointment in, or the absence of, for example, an idealized parent imago, then that child will ‘wall off’ certain parts of her self at the exact point when the trauma took place—the so-called pathogenic fixation point.[2]

This means that the child continues growing with an entire section of her psyche ‘stuck’ at this traumatic fixation point. The walled off segment of the child’s psychological structure remains ‘fixed in time’ and is unable to grow normally alongside the rest of her primary nuclear self—because of the trauma she experienced.

This separation in the psychological structure caused by what Kohut terms the vertical split,[3] is at the root of adaptation problems in later life when the child—now an adult—acts out inappropriately demonstrating narcissistic behaviors.

An example of socially inappropriate behavior

According to Christina Oxenberg, Ghislaine Maxwell allegedly hosted a tea party in her underwear.[4] This behavior is considered to be socially inappropriate. That is to say, people normally don’t host tea parties in their underwear.

One explanation for why a person (not necessarily Ghislaine Maxwell) might not be able to discern between that which is considered socially acceptable behavior, and that which is not, could be untransmuted childhood trauma. A part of such a person’s archaic grandiosity and exhibitionism, therefore, never became fully integrated into their developing, adult personality—and remained separated from their nuclear self[5] by a vertical split—thus causing such a person to act out in ways that are socially inappropriate.

Therapy Activates Fixated Psychic Structures

During analysis, patients with NPD are able to, via what Kohut calls mirroring and idealizing transferences, access archaic psychic content and—provided that the therapist is patient, tolerant, sensitive to nuances, perceptive and allows the transferences to develop spontaneously—understand themselves better, transmute narcissistic energies to their primary psychological structure, and move toward healing in the form of ‘a gradual increase of realistic self esteem, of realistic enjoyment of success … and the establishment of such complex developments within the realistic sector of the personality as humor, empathy, wisdom, and creativeness.’[6]

Let’s Take it to the Next Level together. Book your appointment today.


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[1] Heinz Kohut, The Analysis of the Self.

[2] Ibid., 85.

[3] Luba Rascheff, Self Psychology in Brief, https://www.slideshare.net/LubaRascheff/self-psychology-luba-rascheff, 18, accessed online on September 4, 2020.

[4] Disclaimer: Ghislaine Maxwell is presumed innocent until proven guilty and this example, if true, in no way contributes toward a psychological diagnosis.

[5] Luba Rascheff, Self Psychology in Brief, https://www.slideshare.net/LubaRascheff/self-psychology-luba-rascheff, 80, accessed online on September 4, 2020.

[6] Heinz Kohut, The Analysis of the Self, 199.

The Power of Imagination: How to Use Your Imagination to Get Through the Pandemic

The pandemic has forever changed the way that we live our lives.

Perhaps we should coin new abbreviations: B.P. (before pandemic) and A.P. (after pandemic).

Life B.P. seemed easier and more free-flowing. Obtaining goods and services happened relatively seamlessly, as did moving through dynamic processes involving multiple individuals and going places.

This is no longer the case.

When we can’t obtain what we desire in the expected but no longer extant B.P. modus operandi, what can we do?

In Freudian theory, there is something call the primary process. This process involves forming a mental image (imagining) an object that we desire (but cannot immediately obtain) in order to satisfy our desire for said object.

Beach Scenario

Let’s say that you’re dreaming of being on a favorite beach but that this isn’t possible right now in the A.P. world.

Close your eyes and imagine it. See the beach in your mind’s eye. Remember the time you were there. Feel the hot sand under your bare feet. Feel the soft, cool breeze that blows a slight ocean spray onto your body as you enter the water and slowly move deeper and deeper into the sea.

Can you hear the voice of the children playing on the beach? They suddenly scream for joy!

You’re in the water now, moving your arms rhythmically in order to stay afloat. You’re a ways off from the beach and can see the umbrellas lining the sand—blue and yellow blobs. The cicadas on the hanging vines that climb the surrounding cliff are loud and their ‘song’ reaches you intermittently, in cycles.

‘Ouch,’ you exclaim as you jerk your leg. A little fish bit you! But it’s alright. You’re here, at the beach, in the water, swimming and letting all your cares slip away.

This is an example of how you can imagine a favorite place and de-stress during these strange times.

The idea is that ideas, known in psychological terms as imagoes (idealized mental images of persons, the self or objects), can be willed in order to satisfy unmet needs.

Comparing Worlds

Lately, I’ve been wondering how children born A.P. will experience the world. For them, the B.P. world will be unknown. It was a world that was more carefree, less ecologically minded, less thoughtful, and perhaps more ‘real and physical.’

Perhaps A.P. kids will be more spiritual, less impulsive, more thoughtful, and prone to discover new inventions to help us adapt to the new, A.P. world. Perhaps these children will lead us into a new era.

No Regrets

Facebook came up with a new design. It’s sleek and elegant and we have until September to accept it. When September comes, we won’t have a choice; we’ll just have to accept it—or learn to live without Facebook.

It’s the same way now. Everything seems new. I deliberately use the word ‘seems’ because in many ways nothing has changed. Like Facebook, we can only repackage something so many ways—but it’s essentially still the same.

Spiritual Authenticity

Spiritual authenticity is what will enable us to move through the changes. In many ways, we can obtain this by replacing physical things with spiritual ones. It’s not as hard as you may think. With a little stretch of the imagination, even food can be obtained in this manner as the ancient Israelites were fed heavenly bread called manna.[1]

The pandemic is elevating us to higher thought and belief levels. We may feel as if we’re being pushed beyond our ability to cope, but this isn’t the case. There is a primary process that we can use to satisfy our needs.

Let’s Take it to the Next Level together. Book your appointment today.


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[1] Exodus 16:4.

Dreams: The Language of Your Soul

Dreams: The Language of Your Soul

Do you pay attention to your dreams?

If not, I recommend that you purchase a notebook and start writing them down. The best thing is to jot them down immediately after waking up, when your mind is clear, and you remember them best.

Dreams typically come in sets of two. The first dream of a set is connected to the second, and vice versa.

When you awake, write them down immediately, before you forget.

Doing so will enable you to tap into your subconscious, the realm from which dreams emerge.

According to Carl Jung, dreams, and more specifically archetypes, spontaneously emerge from the subconscious. They are not something that you create. Rather, this material comes from a source external to yourself. Furthermore, dreams are previously hidden content that ‘crosses the bridge’ into your conscious mind in a bid to help you better understand yourself and the world around you.

Dreams use single symbols to express multifaceted interpretations. This is directly opposed to the way we communicate in our waking reality using complex verbal and written formulas to express simple things. Dreams are more like poetry or music where feelings expressed in primitive or archaic forms can instantly convey meaning that is rich and multi-dimensional.

Big Cat on Jungle Island

To give you an example, I dreamed of Ghislaine Maxwell. She’s been in the news lately.

I saw an island in my dream that was called Jungle Island. It was a game, yet real. I was made aware of the fact that everyone on the island who remained close to civilization, close to structures on the island, remained safe. But those who ventured away into the jungle were invariably caught.

I then saw a lioness emerge, slowly, making her way toward the dense jungle. She was protected by ‘dark’ forces (appearing as dark clouds) before and behind her. As she cautiously proceeded, she stopped in front of a large noose which was deliberately placed on the ground. The lioness willingly placed her head into the noose and started being lifted up. However, in addition to the noose, she was also supported by two, wooden ‘batons.’ The batons were on either side of her and integrated with her body. She was fully supported by the batons (horizontally suspended by ropes) while having her head in the noose and being lifted up. There was, therefore, no possibility of harm, or escape.

Dream Interpretation

The island could represent Little St. James. It seems to be a complex setup that combines civilized aspects (structures such as the house, its temple, and other hidden structures) and instinctual, subconscious aspects (the surrounding jungle). The lioness (Ghislaine Maxwell) is alone, but we know that she has a mate, a male companion / counterpart, the unseen lion (Jeffrey Epstein) whose glaring absence represents his decease. Civilization represents the security of not getting caught. The lioness, however, in her mate’s permanent absence—the permanent breakup of a ‘power couple’—is forced to leave this security risking her life and places her head into a prepared noose. The noose represents literal death by hanging. The fact that she willingly places her head into the noose could, however, be metaphorically interpreted as her willingness to reveal potentially incriminating information about herself (e.g., a plea  bargain). Although she is supported by ‘dark’ forces—her many, powerful connections—she is in fact also supported by the ‘batons’ of the law, invasively even. We know for a fact that Ghislaine Maxwell is excessively guarded and supported (the batons are even incorporated into her skin) to avoid the fate that her companion succumbed, also related to a noose.

As you can see, the symbols or dream elements—lioness, missing lion, noose, dark forces, batons, jungle island (civilized and archaic)—combine to give a poetic description of the case.

Have you had any interesting dreams lately?

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Everything is Going According to Plan

I become inspired—infilled with creativity—when I sit on my balcony.

I become lost in the ‘hum’ of construction, the occasional chirping of birds and the steady oasis of lush, green trees that permeate the urban landscape and selflessly absorb carbon monoxide from a depleted environment and transform it into O2.

Earlier I listened to a vulnerable and powerful conversation on race between Dean Helen Easterling Williams, EdD and Greg McKeown of the ‘Essentialism with Greg McKeown’ podcast here.

One of the points brought up among many is that out of the chaos and violence that the world is currently experiencing, something new and better will emerge.

Righteous anger is bursting at society’s seams. The stitches are becoming loose.

What I liked most about Dr. William’s expressive style is the calm and clarity with which she speaks about an explosive topic. Her life experience including having worked in a sharecropper family as a child in South Carolina—a reality that her Baltimore, Maryland school teacher whom she admired denied—gives Williams the authority to navigate between two worlds—black and white—and activate changes that will, perhaps sooner than we think, bring inequity to an end.

In Kohutian psychological terms, the disappointment Williams experienced from an idealized other (her teacher) contributed to lessening her grandiose exhibitionistic (expansive) self’s sense of worth and diminishing the integrity of her nuclear self. Fortunately, Williams overcame this via the compensatory path of becoming the first African American, female dean of Pepperdine University. If, however, we imagine this kind of soul-damaging trauma happening to—being replicated on—countless other black children, we get a glimpse into how this denigration of one’s personal story, one’s intimate, lived life experience devalues all of us (blacks, whites, and those of other races) in the societal matrix of our shared human experience.

As I observe the sky from my  balcony, dark clouds are interrupted by bursts of sunlight. It is a cycle in which the sun makes strides, but clouds appear once more. This metaphor applies to how the fight against racism and racial injustice has progressed over the years.

As painful as dismantling old, inequitable, and iniquitous structures and building new, better, and righteous ones is, the time for this to happen has finally arrived. And I believe that this is happening on more than one level of society.

Our Creator is doing a new thing.[i] The tables are turning and sooner than we had ever imagined.

When all of these thoughts occurred to me on my  balcony, so did the title for this piece, ‘Everything Is Going According to Plan.’

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[i] Isaiah 43:19.

The Time is Now

The Bridge

Lately, my mind has been generating images of bridges as I consider the pandemic[1] we are in.

The virus has created ‘bridges’ of opportunity between people, things, ideas and even worlds.

The virus has caused bridgeable physical divisions through physical distancing; and bridgeable spiritual divisions through the ether—the airwaves.

The point of a bridge is that it can either be crossed, or not. The space—depicted by what the bridge spans, whether physical space or mental/etheric space—represents the divisions generated by the virus. There are many such divisions and the virus appears to crystallize them acting like a kind of magnifying glass that enlarges our defects, our weaknesses.

Although it is easier to see and lament the physical divisions that ensue from the virus, spiritual divisions are harder to see, yet equally real.

Bridges act as facilitators that offer opportunities to ‘cross over’ and unite. They also act as separators.[2] And they can be dangerous, too, because you can fall off a bridge and get hurt and even die.[3]

To prematurely cross a bridge of physical distancing at this writing could, potentially, lead to death by catching the virus. Wisdom and discernment, therefore, are in order before crossing such a bridge. A certain amount of preparation is called for (i.e., wearing a mask and washing our hands), although sometimes, no matter how much we prepare, the consequences of crossing a bridge that we are not meant to, not ready to, or should never cross could be deadly.

The pandemic, therefore, presents us with choices within our quarantine. Having been involuntarily thrust into a kind of ‘survival mode,’ we consciously debate in an ongoing fashion what action is essential versus what is merely desirable.

Do I call that person or not?

Do I write a blog post or do I food shop?

Do I spend time with myself or get busy with an activity?

The questions will vary from person to person, as will the answers, though essential human needs remain the same.

As we journey through ‘Pandemic Land,’ it is important to remember that the ‘bridges’ we encounter on a daily basis also connect the known to the unknown.[4] We do not know what the consequences of crossing a particular bridge may be. We are not sure what is on the other side.


Life is risky and life in Pandemic Land particularly so. Nevertheless, without risk there is no gain. Remaining in lockdown minimizes risk; but without pushing forward—step by careful step with the utmost precaution—we shall never leave home. Without recognizing favourable opportunities, we will never venture out. Without allowing ourselves to feel the unseen spiritual forces of protection working toward the greater good, we will fall into paralysing fear.

The pandemic has forced most of us back into a psychosocial ‘womb’—a cozy and comfortable environment that feels risk free. But we need to emerge to see the cues.


Good decisions can only be made when we are thinking clearly, when our minds are free and clear like a sunny day. Walking across a bridge may involve a balancing act. This is because some bridges, like the Sword Bridge, are narrower and more precarious than others.[5]


When we perceive that an opportunity has been afforded us to safely cross a bridge, then we must courageously commit to doing so.

What bridges are you facing during the pandemic? What moves should you be making?

Let’s ‘Take it to the Next Level,’ book your appointment today,



 Badescu, Sanda. From One Shore to Another: Reflections on the Symbolism of the Bridge. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009.


[1] I refer to the COVID-19 pandemic declared as such by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020.

[2] Badescu, From One Shore to Another, 2.

[3] Badescu, 2-3.

[4] Badescu, 3.

[5] Badescu, 2–3.