In 1811, popular novelist Fanny Burney underwent a mastectomy without anesthesia. But her real heroism came later when she relived the horror in order to write about it, says David Brooks. Then, people believed in struggling against mental feebleness. Today’s culture is better in most ways, but in this way it is worse — "metacognition deficit" is the norm, he laments. "Heroism exists not only on the battlefield or in public but also inside the head, in the ability to face unpleasant thoughts." But, "very few in public life habitually step back and think about the weakness in their own thinking."