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Vladimir Putin Wraps Year with Annual Press Conference; Patterns of Suspicious Deaths Connecting to Russia; "From Russia with Love," a New Book by Heidi Blake; Heidi Blake, Author, "From Russia with Blood," is Interviewed About Russia; Stress Today is Making Us Sick; How to Manage Stress; Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, Author, "The Stress Solution," is Interviewed About Stress. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 20, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEIDI BLAKE, AUTHOR, "FROM RUSSIA WITH BLOOD": His opponents have died in bizarre and grizzly circumstances. They've been shot and blown up, hit by
cars, pushed out of windows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: From Russia with blood, journalist, Heidi Blake, joins with us her deep dive into Vladimir Putin and what she calls a ruthless
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RANGAN CHATTERJEE, AUTHOR, "THE STRESS SOLUTION": The line between work life and homelife has become very, very blurred.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The global stress epidemic. Dr. Rangan Chatterjee explains how workplace anxiety is damaging our health and he gives us tips to combat it.
Plus, a curator at New York's Metropolitan Museum, Dr. Carmen Bambach, talks to our Walter Isaacson about a shared passion, the life and work the
Leonardo da Vinci.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin has wrapped up the year with his annual press conference. The Russian leader fielded questions on a whole host of
issues, including the impeachment of the U.S. president, Donald Trump, and the death of a Georgian man killed in Berlin in August. German prosecutors
suspect Russia may be behind the murder but Moscow denies it.
Journalist, Heidi Blake, has been tracking similarly suspicious deaths, mostly in the U.K. and established some disturbing patterns. And what she
saw coming from the Kremlin and how the British government was responding to it. It's all in her new book, "From Russia with Blood." She joined me
here in the studio to talk about it.
Heidi Blake, welcome to the program.
HEIDI BLAKE, AUTHOR, "FROM RUSSIA WITH BLOOD": Thanks so much for having me.
AMANPOUR: How do you equate the things that you've investigated and the individuals who have been killed with a war on the West?
BLAKE: Well, my team and a few of us (ph) investigated a whole pattern of suspicious deaths in the United Kingdom which we were able to connect to
Russia or to the Mafia groups that worked closely in tandem with Russian Security Services. But this book connects that to a much wider campaign of
state-sponsored killing orchestrated by the Kremlin.
And from the very first days of Vladimir Putin's presidency, his opponents have died in bizarre and grizzly circumstances. They've been shot and
blown up, hit by cars, pushed out of windows, died in apparent suicides. There are a whole trail of dead bodies leading back to the Kremlin.
And what's that part of is it's a kind of form of statecraft in Russia to go after enemies of the Russian state, anybody who threatens the Kremlin's
power, anybody who knows too much, anybody who has campaigned against Putin's absolute power in Russia is under threat. And that goes alongside
the other ways in which Putin is trying to destabilize the institutions of alliances of the Western world order.
AMANPOUR: Obviously, Putin has given all sorts of hints, in any event. that those who cross him will be dealt with. But interesting to note how
that ties into the attack on the West and why that is part of the war on the West.
BLAKE: Right. Well, I think, Vladimir Putin's main goal is all about restoring Russian greatness in the world. And so, part of the way in which
he does that is his assault on democratic institutions in the West, his attacks object attacks on the European Union and, you know, his attacks on
NATO. His attempts to sow disunity and confusion across the West. His -- you know, his deliberate attempts to destabilize western democracies.
As you can see (INAUDIBLE) and meddling in the U.S. elections, in democracies across Europe as examples of that. And the kind of fake news
factories and troll farms which sow disinformation and disunity in Western democracies.
But as part of that, his concerted effort to go after those who oppose his government, those who had information at their disposal which could
threaten to expose his deep links to organized crime, for example, anything which threatens his power in the world or Russian might in the world, you
know, those people are systemically targeted.
And that does two things, it not only removes enemies who might, you know, genuinely threaten Putin's government, but it also sends a message to
anyone in the world, wherever they are, whichever country they reside in that if you cross the Kremlin, if you cross Putin, if you attempt to work
against the Kremlin, you're not safe anywhere in the world, and that's a powerful message.
AMANPOUR: It is. And you list about 14 or so people who have been killed here on British soil since the time of Putin in power. Let's take sort of
the biggest one, which is Boris Berezovsky, the man, oligarch who claimed to have made Putin in the first place then obviously came here with his
family and then was found dead in his ex-wife's apartment. Break that down for us.
BLAKE: Well, so, Boris Berezovsky, who you mentioned, was really the linchpin of a community of exiled Russians who fled to Britain after
Vladimir Putin came to power. As you mentioned; he was the guy who really credited himself with having anointed Putin as a successor to Boris Yeltsin
in the Kremlin.
He plucked Putin out of the obscurity and simply disbarred (ph) from a job as deputy mayor, the Russia second city, smoothed his path to power in the
Kremlin. But after Putin came to power, he (INAUDIBLE) in a big way with Berezovsky and they had a very public dispute. Berezovsky began attacking
him through the newspapers and TV stations that he owned.
On the one hand, Berezovsky, he objected publicly to various moves that Putin made very early on in his presidency, to crackdown on democratic
freedoms in Russia and begin to dismantle Russia's independent media. Berezovsky was a very prominent media baron himself. But at the same time,
Putin, very early on, made a declaration that the oligarchs, the super-rich men who had enriched themselves under Boris Yeltsin and really pulled the
strings on Yeltsin government were no longer going to be allowed to wield power in Russia. They could keep their money but they had to stay out of
But Berezovsky saw himself as a kingmaker. He didn't want to stay out of politics. He believed himself to be a major power breaker in Russia and he
didn't like that. He began attacking Putin. He thought Putin was his protege and shouldn't step out of line. Putin did not take kindly to being
attacked publicly by Berezovsky, began to take various actions including you the FSB raid Berezovsky's various businesses and begin prosecution --
AMANPOUR: Who's the intelligence service, successor to the KGB?
BLAKE: Absolutely right. And so, Berezovsky fled Russia realizing that this was no long air safe place for him to do business, pitched up in the
U.K. And from there, he used the vast fortune that he'd siphoned off from Russia, once he managed to stash it using a network of British lawyers and
financiers in British banks and properties and offshore companies, he began using that to finance a campaign to international opposition of Putin's
government. And he surrounded himself with a network of dissidents and investigators who went digging into Putin's links to organized crime and to
a series of terrorist atrocities in Russia that had killed hundreds of people.
Now, in the years that followed Berezovsky's arrival in Britain, one by one, the various British lawyers and fixers and financiers who went to work
for him to help him get his money out of Russia and into London died in strange and suspicious circumstances. There were helicopter crashes, there
were strange and suspicious suicides. There were people dropping dead of heart attacks out of nowhere when they were young and fit and healthy.
And then the dissidents and the investigators whose work he'd financed also began to die. Alexander Litvinenko, the --
AMANPOUR: The famous case with the Polonium-210 where he was, you know, killed apparently by this nuclear medicine, this nuclear isotope.
BLAKE: Exactly. And the Litvinenko case was an interesting one. That was an assassination so brazen that the British government could not ignore it.
The killers had completely botched the job. They left a trail of radioactive polonium all over London. And Litvinenko himself, a former FSB
detective, sold his own killing and accused the Kremlin of orchestrating his matter from his own deathbed.
AMANPOUR: And we have what he said. So, let me read this. As I lie here, I can distinctly hear the beating of wings of the angel of death. You may
succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protests from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.
I mean, that is really is a poison dart, literally from his deathbed.
BLAKE: Absolutely. Incredibly powerful statement from Litvinenko. Didn't give the British authority any room to ignore his killing. And so, that
was a case where, you know, the authorities did take a firm line with Russia. They accused the Kremlin of being behind the killing. They
expelled four Russian diplomats from London. Russia responded with a tip for top by expelling four Brits from Moscow. But they did stand up to the
Kremlin in that one case.
But what our investigation uncovered was that there a whole trail of other dead bodies, cases that were ignored by the British authorities, by the
police, shut these down without any investigation despite glaring evidence pointing to Russia.
AMANPOUR: And why? Why would Britain with this unbelievable intelligence service, it's notorious crackdown on crimes of all sorts, why would it not
in this case? I mean, these crimes that you allege being committed on sovereign British soil? The Litvinenko one is like a nuclear attack.
BLAKE: Absolutely. A nuclear attack in the heart of the capital city of this country. And yet, even after that, the British government continued
forsaking the Kremlin.
AMANPOUR: But why?
BLAKE: And the reason for that is multifaceted. Number one, I think that the British economy has become increasingly depend on the in-flow of
Russian money into British banks and properties. You know, during the kind of heyday of the Russian oligarchs, he fled here before many of them were
killed in strange circumstances. There were tens of billions of pounds of Russian money a year pouring into the City of London into British banks,
into British properties.
There are major British energy investments in Russia. At the time of Litvinenko's killing, Britain was the biggest foreign energy investor in
Russian oil and gas. So, those are really strategically important to the British government.
And on top of that, there's been such a keenness on the part of Western leaders, not just in Britain but in the U.S. and across Europe to try to
cultivate a close relationship with Putin and to build a strategic alliance with Russia that can be used in the Middle East, you know, to try to oppose
the development of nuclear weapons by Iran and North Korea, you know, that can -- that was useful in the war on tariff, for example.
So, these big strategic geopolitical questions have been really central to this decision to kind of ignore these -- what was seen for a long time as
isolated instances of dirty bankers and robber barons who have fled here from Russia and seemed to be being picked off one by one, that changed with
the attempted assassination of Sergei Kripal.
AMANPOUR: Exactly. And also, that happened after quite a lot changed because when Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, Britain,
Germany, the United States, France, they all looked at Putin much more critically and slapped Russia with sanctions. Obviously, Berezovsky
himself, before he died, had something to say about it. Let's just play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS BEREZOVSKY, EXILED RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRE: It's very important that after Litvinenko case, West recognize who is Mr. Putin finally. And the
answer is Mr. Putin is criminal. And the regime of Putin is criminal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: There was a case that went to court and a rather distinguished British judge/juror essentially ruled that the murder was definitely linked
to the FSB and potentially at the direction of Vladimir Putin. That was a major instance of the British establishment, the British law pointing the
finger. How did that go down? How did that come about?
BLAKE: Well, see, that was the public inquiry into the murder of Alexander Litvinenko after attempts to have the two assassins extradited from Russia
had fizzled out. Alexander Litvinenko's widow, Marina Litvinenko, an extraordinarily courageous woman, mounted a 10-year campaign to have a full
inquiry into her husband's death.
Now, British government resisted that at every single turn, and in a letter to her explaining that this was because of a desire to preserve
international relations with Russia that the government didn't think it was wise to have a full and transparent public inquiry into his death. It was
only after the invasion of Ukraine and, you know, as you mentioned, only after Russian aggressions in the world have become so brazen that all hope
that Putin could be cultivated an ally had completely evaporated that the government finally caved and said, OK, we'll have a public inquiry into
that killing 10 years later.
And that public inquiry concluded that Litvinenko had been murdered definitely on the orders of the FSB and probably on the orders of Vladimir
Putin. It was a huge moment because it was the first time that the British establishment had actually pointed a finger directly at the Kremlin.
AMANPOUR: And what do they do about it? What were the consequences?
BLAKE: Well, see, that's the great question because even when the accusation was forthcoming, all that happened was that the government
announced that they were going to freeze any U.K. assets belonging to the two assassins who had come here to kill Litvinenko.
Now, they're both Russian citizens, are extremely wealthy Russian men in Russia. It's not at all clear that either of them have or rather have had
any British assets at all. So, it was a something or nothing gesture. And that's the heart of this problem really, is that even when -- you know,
even when it's clear that the Kremlin is behind a killing, actually, the measures available to the British government to act when any suspects are
far out of reach and when Russia is so completely belligerent about its involvement in these deaths, is just incredibly limited.
AMANPOUR: Russia obviously denies all of this. Putin obviously denies all of this. What's been the reaction to your reporting and what is their
BLAKE: Russian's general stance on this, they kind of speak with forked tongue on the issue of these assassinations. If you look at the case of
Sergei Skripal, for example, the -- you know, Russian defector, he was poisoned with Novichok, a chemical weapon in Salisbury last year.
AMANPOUR: A nerve agent. A major military usage.
BLAKE: Absolutely. First chemical weapons attack on European soil since the Second World War. That's how significant that was. It exposed
hundreds of members of the British public to a deadly chemical.
Now, Putin said, it's ridiculous that Russia is being accused of being behind this attack. It has absolutely nothing to do with us. But at the
same time, he went on Russia state television and said that Sergei Skripal was a traitor and anyone who betrayed the motherland would kick the bucket.
And that's the kind of cognitive dissidents that the people of Russia have learned to live with.
You know, on the one hand, Putin says traitors will die and on the other hand, when they do die, he says, well, nothing to do with us, but with a
kind of half smile that tells you that, you know, he finds it all quite amusing.
AMANPOUR: And then, you know, to the nothing to do with us criticism, you're pretty aware, obviously, that some people have criticized some of
your findings, basically saying that you lump everybody into this one area of being assassinated by the orders of President Putin where some of them
might have been accidents.
BLAKE: Well, so, you know, if you read the book, it's very, very clear that we're not saying that every single one of these deaths is
incontrovertibly linked to the Russian state or to Russian Mafia groups. What we're saying is that there is a pattern of highly suspicious deaths on
British soil of anyone here has fallen foul of the Kremlin, angered the Kremlin or angered the Mafia groups that work closely with the Russian
And what's particularly striking to us is that every single one of the 14 cases we investigated, the cops had shut them down without any
investigation whatsoever. And even in one case, for example, where a government scientist who was instrumental in solving the Litvinenko case
was found stabbed to death with two different knives at home in Oxford shortly after the Litvinenko verdict. And the cops shut it down and called
it a suicide when Russian state media was running stories about that suggesting it may have been an assassination.
Even our authorities were just completely turning a blind eye. And so, what we're saying is these deaths need to be investigated fully. We should
have a full public inquiry into all 14, which has the power to review classified intelligence material that we know MI-6 has in its position. We
have more than 40 current and former law enforcement and intelligence sources we spoke to, they told us that the U.S. intelligence agencies have
passed information to Britain connecting all these deaths to Russia. And yet, the authorities have sat on it. And so, what we're saying is,
investigate the pattern.
AMANPOUR: And actually, it looks like your reporting has sparked some investigation. Well, we know that after the Skripals, I mean, nobody could
keep silent anymore, no government. The U.S. expelled Russians from the United States, Britain did too. Another whole raft of sanctions went down.
But there has been a fallout from your reporting, right? I mean, there has been a pledge to investigate?
BLAKE: Well, you know, it was very interesting what happened after the Skripal attack because it's kind of an object lesson in how the British
authorities respond to these cases. So, there was a huge physical pressure for them to reopen the 14 cases we'd exposed in the immediate aftermath of
the attack. The government announced it would have a review of those cases with help from Scotland Yard and MI-5, which kind of helped the fuss die
Six months later when the world had moved on and the story wasn't top of the news agenda anymore, the government very quietly announced that it was
closing that investigation without giving any public explanation as to why. It briefed two MPs who have security clearances, they gave them a secret
briefing as to the reasons why, refused to acknowledge anything publicly. And, you know, this just goes to show the way in which the British
government moves to suppress and shut down these cases.
AMANPOUR: Isn't it true also that the government, certainly before this election, has refused to publish a document that shows alleged Russian
interference in elections, for instance? And we've just gone through a British election, there's going to be another U.S. election. The fear of
Russia contaminating these elections is a very live fear.
BLAKE: Yes. You know, the suppression of the Russian report into potential Russian interference in British politics ahead of a crucial
election is just another in a long line of official coverups, of -- you know, of evidence of Russian meddling on British soil. So, it doesn't
surprise us at all that that report hasn't come out.
And in fact, you know, in lots of cases that we've investigated, the government has done more to shut them down, it's actually moved to get high
court secrecy orders banning any information going before inquest into these men's deaths. So, it's not just that the government is looking away,
is that there are quite concerted efforts being made to keep a lid on these cases.
AMANPOUR: So, when you go out and you ask them, Mr. Government, minister or madam, you know, secretary, why are you engaged in a cover-up, what do
they say to you? What's their response, the British?
BLAKE: The government say, well, we don't comment on matters of national security, no comment on individual police investigations. This is a matter
for the coroner. But our response to that is, well, you obtained a public interest secrecy order preventing information from going before the
inquest. So, the current (ph) didn't have access to the full range of evidence available.
And that's why we think it's important that there is a public inquiry because that's the only judicial forum in which classified intelligence
material can be reviewed, that was why the Litvinenko inquiry was able to make the very clear finding pointing a finger at the Kremlin. And so, we
think we need to have a similar inquiry into the passing of 14 killings that we've exposed just to really get to the bottom of this.
AMANPOUR: It's an amazing story and Russia is always so important in our daily debate, frankly. Heidi Blake, thank you so much, indeed.
BLAKE: Thank you so much for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, the news today is enough to send anxiety levels through the roof no matter who you are. Our next guest is here to help. He's Dr.
Rangan Chatterjee. And he says stress today is, in fact, making us physically sick. Some 80 percent of the health issues that he treats can
be traced back to stress, and it's made worse by blurring work and homelife.
Dr. Chatterjee join me here in the studio to diagnose the issue and to give us what we all need to manage it, a prescription.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, welcome to the program.
DR. RANGAN CHATTERJEE, AUTHOR, "THE STRESS SOLUTION": Christiane, thank you very much for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, the book is "The Stress Solution." How stressed are you right now on a scale of 1 to 10?
CHATTERJEE: A scale of 1 to 10, it is, what is that, Mid-December now? I'm going to say about seven to eight, maybe eight. Today, I'm going to
AMANPOUR: Because it's cumulative?
CHATTERJEE: It's cumulative. You know, I'm -- I don't think I'm anything unique, right. I'm busy. I've got two young children. I've got a wife.
I've got a busy job. You know, I see patients. I release weekly podcasts. I write books. You know, I appear in public. I've got lots going on. And
at the moment, I guess I'm feeling the pressure.
So, I've got to be honest, I'm trying my best to apply a lot of principles that I write and talk about, but it can be challenging.
AMANPOUR: But that means you are the perfect infect perfect subject to be writing about because you are feeling all of these things the people in
your generation and, you know, people in the workplace are feeling. Are you juggling too much, essentially?
CHATTERJEE: I think I'm juggling a little bit too much at the moment. And the thing is, you never really get to a perfect state of balance. We're
all looking for work-life balance as if it's an endpoint that suddenly when we get there everything's going to be blissful. But the reality is life
always changes. Life shifts arounds.
The stress is a serious problem. Let's be really clear about this, the World Health Organization, according stress, the health epidemic of the
21st century. And actually, there was a paper in 2013, Journal of the American Medical Association, it was an editorial, I should say, where they
suggested that 70 percent to 90 percent of all patients that come and see their doctor at any given day is in some way related to stress.
AMANPOUR: 70 percent to 90 percent?
AMANPOUR: You are a doctor. What do you find in your surgery?
CHATTERJEE: I see things like anxiety, insomnia, inability to concentrate, hormonal problems, type 2 diabetes, even things like obesity and high blood
pressure, all of these seemingly separate problems can have stress as a root driver. And I think we really need to give stress a bit more
attention, not only how wise for the problem is, but also some actionable solutions so people feel empowered.
AMANPOUR: Right. So, before we get to the solutions, I just want to know, are you making, you know, a difference in terms of location, stress
location? Is it home and family life? Is it the workplace? Because we're seeing that, you know, it's all over, obviously. But is it different in
various different locations? Like work stress, apparently, is very, very big right now.
CHATTERJEE: There's multiple reasons for it, but one of the big reasons for me is the line between work life and homelife has become very, very
CHATTERJEE: Twenty years ago, 15 years ago, most people in most jobs would finish their work, they would leave the office or the workplace and they
would go home, and they would spend time with their friends, with their children, with their families. I think one won't really be thinking much
about work until the following day.
Now, what is common for many people, you go home, I guess you might have dinner with your family or your partner. But then the laptop comes out.
Let me recheck my work e-mails. Saturday and Sundays now, we've got work e-mails on our phone. So, even if we're out with our children or out
enjoying like we might just have a quick flick on a work e-mail that we wouldn't otherwise have seen until Monday now is our heads on a Saturday
and Sunday, and this is not harmless. We're seeing more and more the devastating impact this is having, yes, on our physical health, but also
things like our relationships at home.
AMANPOUR: On the one hand, all these platforms that we have, the technology allows work to insidiously creep into our off time as well. But
what about work that makes itself mimic homelife? You know the big offices, whatever they are, some of the big corporations offer everything
from, you know, breakfast all through dinner. They offer sleep pods. They offer laundry services. I mean, they want to keep people working.
CHATTERJEE: Look, I think different organizations are trying different strategies to help alleviate work stress. Now, some organizations are not
trying and I think that's going to have to change very have, very soon. Not only is there a moral and ethical imperative, I think, for these
companies to change, I there is absolutely going to be a financial imperative for these guys to actually change as well.
CHATTERJEE: But, you know, the offices which provide sleeping pods and provided meditation rooms, are they trying to keep people awake for longer?
I don't know. I think the intention is quite good. I think it's like when you're at work, we value you're well-being.
AMANPOUR: Maybe it's an unintended consequence then?
CHATTERJEE: Absolutely. When you feel you can stay there for longer. But I do think that having your employer take well-being seriously matters,
right. Here in the U.K., one in four people in any given year are going to be diagnosed with a mental health problem, right. So, that means at most
workplaces, about 25 percent of people are going to be suffering, at any one time, with a mental health problem.
AMANPOUR: The World Health Organization says an estimated $1 trillion had been lost in productivity every year due to worker unhappiness and stress
and all the rest of it.
CHATTERJEE: Yes. And, look, you know, what do stress do, right? Let's just remember the stress response that we have assumed has evolved in a
very different era. Couple million years ago, it evolved to keep us safe. So, a wild predator, let's say, was attacking. In an instant, a series of
changes would occur in our bodies. So, our blood sugar would go up so we could have more fuel to the brain. Our blood pressure would go up, that's
going to help us in the short-term.
Your amygdala, which is part of your emotional brain, that's going to become -- is going to go on high alert and you'll become hypervigilant to
all the threats around you. That is an appropriate response to a short- term stressor. The problem today is that many of us are no longer having our stress responses activated by wild animals, they're being activated by
our modern lives.
AMANPOUR: As a doctor, and you see people coming in, you've listed a whole number of physical ailments. But let's talk about a patient who came in
with whatever, that you diagnosed as a stress-related. Give us an example.
CHATTERJEE: Yes. So, look, one patient that comes to mind that may be relevant to this conversation around workplace stress is a 52-year-old chap
who came to see me a few years ago. He was the CFO of a plastics company. And he came to see me, you know, high-powered job, you know, driving a nice
car, married with two kids. It looked from the outside as though he's doing well.
And he said, in my practice said, Dr. Chatterjee, I'm a bit worried. I'm struggling to get out of bed in the morning. I can't concentrate as much
as I used to at work. I just feel a bit indifferent about everything in a way that I never used to. Is that this what depression is? And I said,
OK. Look, let's figure out what's going on in your life.
So, I ask him a series of questions. Ask him about his job. He said, look, you know, job's fine but I don't particularly enjoy it. It's there
to pay the mortgage and pay the bills. I said, OK. You know, how's your marriage? He said, you know, marriage is fine. I don't really see my wife
much. I'm working too hard. I'm busy. I think things are okay but he's very indifferent about it.
Then I was trying to find out a little bit more about his life and I pushed him a bit on does he have any hobbies. He said, Dr. Chatterjee, I don't
have time for hobbies. I'm a busy guy. I said, what about weekends? Weekends, I'm doing chores. Taking my kids to their classes. I said. OK.
Did you ever have any hobbies before? And he said, yes, when I was a teenager, I used to play with train sets. I said, OK. Do you have a train
set at home? And he said, yes, but it's in the attic, I have not seen it for years. I said, I'd love for you to get your train set out when you go
Now, Christiane, I appreciate, that may not be the advice he was expecting from his doctor. But I suspected that he was working too hard and like
many of us, he was so busy doing what he needs to do, he forgot about the things that he loves to do. And what's really interesting is that research
shows us that regularly doing things that we love makes us more resilient to stress. But at the same time, being chronically stressed, particularly
work stress, makes it harder for you to experience pleasure in day to day things. It works both ways.
So, I sent him away with this prescription, if you will. Three months later, I hadn't seen him, he hadn't come back, which is not uncommon. We
can't follow up all of our patients. I was in my surgery car park and I bumped into his wife. And I said, can just ask you, how's your husband
getting on? She said, Dr. Chatterjee, I feel like I've got the man I married back again. He comes home from work, yes, he comes home late, but
he's tinkering around on his train sets. He's always on eBay trying to buy collector's items and he subscribed to a monthly magazine now.
Now, it was incredible to see him. I actually saw him a few months later and he shared the same thing with me. What was interesting is he started
to get more enjoyment out of his job as he got more enjoyment out of his job. So, again, when we're talking about stress, I could teach you
CHATTERJEE: -- and breathing and all kinds of things that people have heard about. But we forget about passion, right. Regularly doing things
that we love makes us more resilient to stress.
AMANPOUR: It's so funny you should mention passion because -- and I'm going to play this little bit of an interview I did with Dr. Lauri Santos
who's a psychologist and a teacher at Yale University. And just by chance, she discovered that an overwhelming number of students are stressed out.
I'm going play this and then we'll just talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. LAURI SANTOS, HOST, "THE HAPPINESS LAB": I think one thing to know about what's happening with college student mental health is that the stats
are really getting worse overtime. Actually, I make these graphs for students where I show them the statistics of things like anxiety and
loneliness and so on, and they're just depressing because all the stats are just skyrocketing.
One of the scariest ones is that levels of depression have doubled in just the last nine years. So, in less than a decade, we have twice the number
of students on campus who are in really serious psychological distress, which is really worrying. But this question of why that is, is a bit of a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, why that is, I'd be interested in knowing your answer. But also, you talked about finding their passion. Some young people are
saying, oh, my god, we're under so much stress to just try to find our passion. We keep getting told to find our purpose and passion in life,
what is it?
CHATTERJEE: Yes, you're right. A lot of this well-meaning advice can actually end up being even more stressful for people about what they should
be doing manage their stress and living that perfect life. When asked about passion, I'm not necessarily talking about finding that dream job
that actually ticks every box.
I'm talking about people for five minutes a day doing something that they love, whether it's going for a walk, reading a book, listening to a
podcast, dancing to their favorite music, coming home from work, putting on YouTube and finding their favorite comedian and laughing for five minutes.
I'm really about breaking these big ideas down into small actionable chunks.
AMANPOUR: So, give us more strategies because I'm sure people listening will want know, especially since you're a medical doctor. I mean, you gave
the advice to your patient about the train set and that was remark will and it really made a massive change you say.
Just if there were young people coming to you or people anxious like Laurie Santos said, about there are some internships, for heaven's sake, not even
yet in the workplace. What would you advise them to do because they want to impress their boss, they want to climb up the ladder, they want to, you
know, be here 24/7?
CHATTERJEE: Yes, you're right. It is a wealth of information. Now, that's very, very confusing and I get it. At a young part of your career
you want to work hard, you want to show your boss you're working hard so they know that you really, really care.
So, the very simple thing I advise people to do is, can you bookend the start and the end of your day without technology? I think that's a great
start for all of us.
And if the first thing you do when you wake up is to go straight onto your phone -- and I know it's hard these days because many of us from have an
alarm clock on our phone -- and we could talk about that later, perhaps -- but if you go and start look at your e-mails or reacting on social media,
this can very quickly start to stress you out.
I talk about this. I have written about it in the introduction of my book about macro-stress doses and micro-stress doses. And I make the case that
many of us are exposed to 10 or 15 micro-stress doses before we have even walked out the door in the morning.
Now, what does that mean? Here's the thing about stress which I think really makes it applicable to everyone. We have all got our own unique
stress threshold, right? Yours will be different from mine.
CHATTERJEE: And it will depend on what day it is and what is going on.
AMANPOUR: That's really interesting, actually, yes.
CHATTERJEE: And so I say a mini-stressor or a micro-stressor is a little hit of stress that normally in isolation we can handle, but when they mount
up one after the other, they get us closer and closer to our threshold.
And when they hit our threshold, that's when things go wrong. That's when we blow up at an innocent e-mail from our colleague. That's when our back
goes. That's when we have a row with our partner. It's not the final micro-dose of stress that is the problem. It's the cumulative effect.
CHATTERJEE: And so a typical person these days, what happens? They're so stressed out by work that they stay up late in the evening trying to
unwind, right, whether it's with alcohol, or binge-watching a box set until late.
And I'm not criticizing. I understand why people do that. But let's say you have gone to bed late at midnight, and your alarm goes off the
following morning at 6:30. Your alarm goes off. That is micro-stress dose number one. That is jolting you out of a deep sleep.
You look at your phone, you go, I'm going to -- I need a bit more time. You put it on snooze. Six minutes later, another micro-stress dose, right?
Then what you do you do? You think, oh, I'm going to have a quick look. You go on your e-mail. Oh, that is three work e-mails I didn't get back to
yesterday. I need to get back to them now. Micro-stressor number three.
Then you think, I will quickly look on social media, and you go on Twitter and see that someone's been rude to you. And very quickly -- I could keep
going, but we don't have an hour to talk about this -- very quickly, you're up to 10 or 15 micro-stressors, which means you're walking out of the door
a lot closer to your threshold, which mean it will take less stress in the day to tip you over.
So, I say, if you can have, ideally, I'd say, an hour without your phone in the morning. But for some people, that's too scary. Start with five
minutes, right? Start with five minutes or 10 minutes and build up.
Going for a walk at lunchtime without your phone is one of the most impactful things you can do. I talk to lots of companies about corporate
well-being. And my top tip for them is, encourage your employees, encourage your staff to have a tech-free lunch break, even if it's just for
10 or 15 minutes.
And it does many things. Yes, it helps reset your stress levels at lunchtime, which is very beneficial. But it also helps your employees
become more productive.
So here's the thing, Christiane, right? We used to think when we stop focusing on a task in front of us, that our brain went to sleep. But it's
not true. There's a part of your brain called the DMN, the default mode network, that goes into overdrive.
Now, what is that part of the brain responsible for? Many things, but two of them that's relevant to this conversation is creativity and problem-
solving. This is the exact reason why so many people come up with their best ideas in the shower or out for a walk, right?
So what I'm saying is that we can have all these fancy, expensive strategies that we can talk about and these fancy apps. And I say, let's
break it down super simple. Don't look at your phone first thing in the morning or last thing at night; 15 minutes at lunchtime, put your phone in
the drawer and go for a walk.
On your commute to work, right -- so let's say you're taking a train or you drive -- maybe don't listen to something that's going to fire you up.
Don't look at your work e-mails. Maybe use that time as a transitional relaxation time.
Listen to your favorite bit of music. If you do like podcasts and you have a favorite one, listen to a podcast, rather than always trying to get
And I tell you, one of my top tips, right, and this is a really, really important one, I think, and it goes on that whole notion of downtime, when
we're in a coffee shop these days, 10 years ago, you would go into a cafe, and you would be waiting to order your coffee, and you would be -- you
would be people-watching. You would be daydreaming a little bit.
Now you go into any cafe around the world, and what are we all doing? We're looking down at our phone.
AMANPOUR: Looking at our phone, yes.
CHATTERJEE: We're trying to use every bit of time to get ahead.
And it's these little micro-moments where you can say, you know what? I'm going to keep my phone in my pocket and I'm just going to...
AMANPOUR: And make eye contact. Smile. Talk to somebody.
CHATTERJEE: Make eye contact. Say hi. Loneliness -- as clip showed, loneliness is on the rise. That is very, very toxic for our health.
They say that the feeling of being lonely is as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. I mean, there are many reasons for that, but
it fundamentally comes down to the stress response. If you feel lonely, your body feels that you're not part of the tribe, and that you're
vulnerable to attack, and so it activates the stress response in the same way.
And many of us these days go to these amazing online connections, but we probably need to spend a bit more time working on our offline connections.
A great way to do that is, if you are with the people you love, whether it's your partner or your friends, you know what, and you are having a
meal, let's say, don't have a device at the dinner table, you know?
AMANPOUR: A hundred percent, yes.
Well, that's really very good advice. I have got two major takeaways, just easy ones for people to do. Look people in the eye, say hello, smile. And
what was the other one? Take a walk around the block at lunchtime.
I agree with you. Stop your day, take a walk, get some fresh air, think something different, without your device.
CHATTERJEE: It's not complicated, right?
AMANPOUR: No, it's not, actually.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, thank you very much, indeed.
CHATTERJEE: Thank you so much for having me.
AMANPOUR: And now continuing our much-needed stress relief through art.
Carmen Bambach is a curator at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art who, in 2017, shaped the most historic and expansive exhibit of Michelangelo.
And now she dives into Leonardo's groundbreaking work on the 500th anniversary of his death in her book "Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered."
And she sits down with our own Leonardo expert, Walter Isaacson, to discuss the Italian master's genius.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is really a Leonardo moment.
And I have to begin by saying thank you, because those of us who write what try to be popular biographies of Leonardo, like I did, we depend on the
deep scholarship of people like yourself.
And you have this four-volume work that's now come out that goes through every single thing he did. So I hope you understand how important scholars
are to those of us who try to write general history and how great your book is.
CARMEN BAMBACH, AUTHOR, "LEONARDO DA VINCI REDISCOVERED": Thank you, Walter. That's very, very kind of you, very generous.
It's been a really amazing year to be able to bring out this book and also enjoy all the fanfare around Leonardo. I was in Vinci, on May 2, when he
was -- when he died and the 500th anniversary was being celebrated.
It's pretty amazing to see actors dressed up as Leonardo and the Mona Lisa cookies and Leo car.
ISAACSON: And then your four-volume work. And then we have the Louvre show, which I know you were helpful in helping them think through.
BAMBACH: It's a stupendous exhibition. It's beautiful, and then also full of new ideas and thoughts. It's a very -- it's a scholarly exhibition, but
also really attractive for a general public.
ISAACSON: You started your career as a graduate student doing art.
And you discovered a Michelangelo drawing, in the sense that you figured out what it was. Nobody quite knew, because they had it turned upside-
down. And it was a drawing for Haman on the Sistine Chapel.
BAMBACH: That's right.
ISAACSON: Tell me about that.
BAMBACH: Well, it was really very exciting. As you know, undergraduates wait until the last minute to write their thesis.
And so late at night, I was going through all the books on Michelangelo's drawings for the Sistine ceiling. And I see this drawing upside down. And
it's described as an armpit. And so I said, well, let me turn it around. And it was really quite amazing, because it turned out to be full-scale --
a full-scale design for the Sistine ceiling.
So this is the only full-scale design that we have left. And the only reason it survived is because the other side of the paper has this
beautiful study of Haman and whereas the design is -- it's a working drawing.
ISAACSON: So you have loved both Leonardo and Michelangelo throughout your career. You did a great show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
on Michelangelo few years ago.
And they were rivals in Florence, Leonardo being a little bit older, Michelangelo being the young up-and-comer. Tell me about that rivalry.
BAMBACH: It's kind of interesting, because Florence is really a laboratory of creative activity, especially in the Renaissance.
And there is this era of competition that I think also fuels artistic creativity. So, Leonardo Joe was quite a bit older than Michelangelo, and
he's commissioned to do the Battle of Anghiari. And Michelangelo gets called in a year later. Clearly, Leo was not finishing his design.
And Michelangelo had just finished carving the monumental David.
ISAACSON: We can see that rivalry begin -- and it's in your four-volume work -- when Leonardo's even doing a sketch of Michelangelo's David.
And Leonardo, I think, is on the committee to try to figure out where to put it.
BAMBACH: Yes. Yes.
As you know, Leonardo picked the place that was not so conspicuous.
ISAACSON: He wanted to hide it away.
BAMBACH: So, underneath the Loggia dei Lanzi where, as we know, it was placed in front of the Palace of Governments, so -- as a symbol of the
republic, so for everybody to see.
So, yes, Michelangelo embodies this new spirit in Florence. And it's basically also when the sun is setting on Leonardo and his career.
ISAACSON: Compare and contrast for me Leonardo da Vinci's work and Michelangelo's work, their artistic styles.
BAMBACH: I think, in the case of Michelangelo, he believes in the dificulta, the difficulties.
So, this is an artist who is profoundly concerned with technical virtuosity. And for him, the anatomy of the body is really the great
reflection of divine creation.
And that is his vehicle to tell the story. It's all about the nude human, male human body.
In the case of Leonardo, it's very much about the creativity and the process of searching. There is this sense that, in the case of Leonardo,
that he searches, changes his mind, and there is the sense of being engaged with the energy itself of the creative act.
And this is also a why his drawings, for instance, have so many reinforcement lines, and it looks like electrifying outlines. And then
he's interested in this mysterious chiaroscuro.
And so Leonardo also believes in this...
ISAACSON: You mean sort of the blurry lines.
BAMBACH: Yes. He -- Leonardo loves to reveal as much as he loves to hide, in the case of forms.
So, there is this very organic way of looking at the composition of a painting in the case of Leonardo. It sort of starts like an amorphous
cloud, and then, gradually, it takes form.
ISAACSON: Some people who are critics of Leonardo da Vinci say he wasted a lot of time doing science and flying machines and anatomy and geology, and
that if he had focused just on his paintings, he would have produced more paintings. And, of course, he probably would have.
But do you think that all of that science made him who he was and made his art the way he was?
I think that that is a great sort of summary of the ethos of Leonardo. If we look at, say, a painting like the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne,
which probably began around 1506, and which is still unfinished, it's a painting that is at Musee du Louvre in Paris.
It is really extraordinary. It's a small painting, and you can see him refining tone, the refinement of the sfumato, the refinement of the
And it is almost as if he brings everything that he has learned about geology, save for the foreground, where the stratified rocks are, what he
has observed of water and the transparency. There is actually a pool of water that we now can appreciate because the painting was cleaned.
And then we look at the landscape, that mysterious landscape that looks so blue and gray, that disappears into the haze of the atmosphere.
If he had not been studying the horizon in a scientific way, he would not have come up really with that understanding of atmospheric perspective as a
way to create this almost mystical composition.
So, the painting, that particular painting, I always see as a summation of your Leonardo's science as a painter.
ISAACSON: In your four-volume work, you spend a lot of time on the Saint Anne, because it's sort of the core of who Leonardo is.
And we actually have lots of drawings and versions that you can lead up and see. Explain what you learn from all of the sketches and drawings and
cartoons, as they call it, which is a full-scale drawing for a painting.
Well, what is really interesting is that this subject, the subject of the painting is relatively simple, Saint Anne, the mother of the virgin, the
virgin, the Christ child, and a lamb.
And it is interesting that this subject was something that Leonardo pondered for his entire career as a painter in different compositions.
So, what is really amazing about the drawings is that they allow us to see the progression of his ideas, whether he's going to move the child and the
lamb to the left or to the right. This is an artist who continues to also think about the overall form of the composition.
And then, if we really sort of like take a long view out, we can see that there is a solidity almost, a geometric solidity, to the arrangement of the
figures. And so we also see that in the drawings.
And then we see these fantastically beautiful, ethereal qualities at transparency of the veils in the closing of the figures, which he first
tested in the drawings.
So there is a sense that all that gracefulness of the gestures of the figures comes through this extraordinary exercise in drawing, that he
observes the children playing, say, with a cat, he knows how the movement can become natural.
And then he goes through this process of idealizing the figures, idealizing the clothing. And they stop communicating as if they were studies observed
So there is a complete transformation. And here is where the scientist, the painter scientist , comes into play.
ISAACSON: Tell me why the Mona Lisa is such a great piece of art.
BAMBACH: I think the ability that it has to communicate and the timelessness of the way that the figure is presented, that psychological
precedence, the fact that this artist has also used the landscape in the background as yet another means of amplifying the story.
We really think about it, the landscape, for example, on the right-hand side of the composition, you get a level of water that's very high. On the
left side, you get it very low. So, clearly, the mind and eye of the viewer has to make some connection. There is quite a question mark.
The face has so much mystery, the smile, the gaze. It is almost as if Leonardo conjures everything that he knows to create this fiction that
means so much. And he, in fact, writes about painting being the supreme creative act, comparable to divine power of creation.
And I think that that is really the arsenal of devices, all of them so mysteriously deployed in the Mona Lisa.
ISAACSON: You have held the Mona Lisa in your own hands and seen it even without the protective glass on that one day every year or so that they
open it up.
Do you think the Louvre should clean it and take the varnish off, so we could see it more the way it was in the original?
BAMBACH: I think that's a tough question, Walter.
I would expect that the scientific investigation of the painting continues, and that we are at a stage where there is a confidence that this can be
done. I don't think we are there yet.
I think that there is also, of course, the aspect of the press. The press will get very excited about this. And I think that caution is really
probably the best approach here.
ISAACSON: In your book, you show a drawing he does for what may have been an intended portrait of Isabella d'Este. And you contrast it with what he
does with the Mona Lisa.
Why was that such a big transformation?
BAMBACH: Again, thanks to my colleagues at the Musee du Louvre, a summit years ago now, in 2009, there was this extraordinary meeting of just
scientists and conservators and a select number of art historians.
And we were in the room with the Mona Lisa, and Isabella d'Este side by side. And, of course, my heart pounded. That's the first reaction one
has. And it was really interesting to really think about these two portraits of women side by side, the same body scale.
And I write about this in the book, because, for me, it was such a moving moment -- the same body scale, both women in which the hands, the position
of the hands play a role.
And it was really quite interesting, because the Isabella d'Este, I consider a fairly experimental portrait. It's the earlier of the two
The profile view of the figure does not really allow us a great engagement with the gaze of the spectator. And then, of course, there is the problem
of the arm, that particularly the right arm, that is very much bent, and it seems to come up on the border of the cartoon's composition.
And it really is not relaxed at all, whereas, in the Mona Lisa, especially when one examines it with infrared reflectography, and one can see the
development of the underdrawing, you see the way in which the pose is resolved, that Leonardo understands that this is not really a situation
where you do a sharp foreshortening of the anatomy, but it's all about rest, the serenity.
And that allows, of course, a proportional foreshortening of the arms, which is so beautiful and successful in the Mona Lisa.
ISAACSON: One of the things about Leonardo is the mystery and mystique that always surrounds him.
We have just had the Salvator Mundi, disputed painting in some ways, sell for $450 million. How do you think he would have felt about all the hoopla
and mystery around him these days?
BAMBACH: Leonardo's personality was a bit of a showoff.
So I think that he would be incredibly tickled pink, whether it is that thousands of tourists go see the Mona Lisa, or that his 500th anniversary
of his death is being celebrated in so many different ways.
We get the president of France and the president of Italy laying flowers at the pseudo tomb of Leonardo in Amboise.
And , yes, any work connected to Leonardo's name is bound to make incredible news.
ISAACSON: From his Ginevra de' Benci, to the Mona Lisa at the very end of his life, you see him connecting sort of the distant creation of the
mountains, and then the swirling river almost coming into the blood of us humans.
And it seems he's trying to say, how do we fit in?
BAMBACH: It is extraordinary.
I think that, in the end, Leonardo was somebody who understood a great deal about human nature. And, again, this aspect -- he's somebody, as a
theorist, who writes a lot about the mind itself.
And it is interesting to what extent he also understood it as a possibility of artistic creativity and imagination. And it is interesting because,
yes, his portraits, whether it's the Ginevra de' Benci or the Mona Lisa or, in fact, the Saint John the Baptist, which is not a portrait, there is a
sense of the knowledge of humanity of the ages that one seems to encounter in those faces.
ISAACSON: I don't see that in Michelangelo.
BAMBACH: Well, you're right. You're absolutely right.
And it's very interesting, because, in the case of Michelangelo, there is a -- I don't want to call it an feral approach to expression, but expression,
facial expression, the body's expression is really about the power, the forcefulness.
His art really is a great deal about forcefulness. And this is, I would say, precisely the quality that, for Leonardo, is of less interest. And
so, for Michelangelo, sometimes, indeed, the faces seem to have very straightforward emotions.
BAMBACH: I find them powerful.
So, my Mickey, I feel it's actually been one of the great privileges of my life to have been able to work intensely on Leonardo and Michelangelo, and
sort of come to appreciate their very, very distinctive, almost confrontational personalities.
It's -- it's very moving to try to understand what it is that actuates the imagination of each of these just transcendental artists.
ISAACSON: Carmen Bambach, thank you so much for being with us.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, we'd like to end with a look back at some of our own conversations with the great modern artists.
This year, we got a tour of Antony Gormley's landmark exhibition at the Royal Academy here in London.
We also visited Iceland's Olafur Eliasson at the Tate Modern, and talked to him about using his art to help fight climate change.
And we met up with Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat, whose work continues to highlight the lives and the work of women in her homeland and
across the Middle East.
Now, they all lift and inspire. And we certainly need that as the year ends. And you can watch them all on Amanpour.com.
That is it for now. You can always catch us on our podcast and across social media as well.
Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.