Saturday, December 31, 2016

Like a Rolling Stone -- Bob Dylan and The Band (live, 1966)

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
People call say 'beware doll, you're bound to fall'
You thought they were all kidding you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hanging out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging your next meal
How does it feel, how does it feel?
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone

Ahh you've gone to the finest schools, alright Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
Nobody's ever taught you how to live out on the street
And now you're gonna have to get used to it
You say you never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He's not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And say do you want to make a deal?
How does it feel, how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
A complete unknown, like a rolling stone

Ah you never turned around to see the frowns
On the jugglers and the clowns when they all did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain't no good
You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on a chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain't it hard when you discovered that
He really wasn't where it's at
After he took from you everything he could steal
How does it feel, how does it feel?
To have on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone

Ahh princess on a steeple and all the pretty people
They're all drinking, thinking that they've got it made
Exchanging all precious gifts
But you better take your diamond ring, you better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him he calls you, you can't refuse
When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You're invisible now, you've got no secrets to conceal
How does it feel, ah how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone


Friday, December 30, 2016

New Year's Reading Resolution? Ten Pages a Day of the Best

Ten Pages a Day in 2017? “The best-read man is the one who has oftenest read the best things; who goes through Homer, Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, and the Bible, once a year.” 

New Criterion

"[Cornell Professor Lane] Cooper always urged his best English majors to learn Greek well enough to read it with pleasure. (He expected them to know Latin already.) In his essay “The Teaching of English and the Study of the Classics,” published in 1915, Cooper was nonetheless already worrying about the declining enrollment in programs devoted to ancient languages: “If Greek were ultimately to disappear from the curriculum of all the schools, Latin in no long time probably would make a similar exit, and sooner or later the serious study of modern languages and literatures would be discountenanced too.” We have seen the sad truth of his warning.
But why was ancient Greek so important to Cooper? His views now strike us as belonging to a lost world. “Literature,” he maintained, “represents human life at its best.” He argued that “the Homeric age transmitted to that of Pericles ideals of human conduct—bravery and endurance in time of war, good counsel and fidelity in time of peace; at all times courage for individual achievement, coupled with reverence and an instinctive feeling that communal interests are supreme.” The age of Pericles represented for him both the beginning and the perfecting of philosophy, eloquence, drama, and much else. “In this period,” he wrote, “Athenian life was characterized by the dominance of a regulated imagination in every sphere of activity, and by a complete interpenetration of theory and practice.”
Cooper’s picture of a regulated imagination and a harmonious culture, however idealized, contained an ethical as well as an esthetic dimension. More important than what the Greeks wrought were “the men themselves” and “their unlimited capacity for contemplation and construction, for the highest kind of action, the orderly life of the spirit.” Little wonder that Cooper frequently recommended an essay by his own Yale teacher, Albert Cook, entitled “The Artistic Ordering of Life.”
In those days it still seemed obvious that the Homeric poems, the tragedies of Sophocles, the dialogues of Plato, and the Old and New Testament should stand at the center of an educated person’s interior life. Cooper blamed their neglect on the elective system, the notion that “one subject is just about as good as another.” As he complained, “the main principle in a general education no longer is ‘Let a man deny himself, and take up his cross daily,’ but ‘let every man follow his bent.’ ” Study, he believed, should actually be hard work, while familiarity with the classics obviously provided a foundation for every sort of humanistic learning. As he wrote: 
To an age that is eager for almost any short cut to the intelligent reading of our English poets, we might say that a hundred hours devoted to Ovid and Virgil, even read in translations, would be worth thousands of hours spent upon most of the books in the lists that have been adopted for “entrance English.”
In that pamphlet Literature for Engineers, Cooper stressed the power and confidence that derive from knowledge of great books. For those whose time is limited, he urged a grounding in just a half dozen works. “The best-read man is the one who has oftenest read the best things; who goes through Homer, Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, and the Bible, once a year.” (He calculated that it would take just ten pages a day.) Ideally, one should own these books, so that their sentences can be underlined, margins scribbled in, endpapers covered with comments and reflections. Serious reading, after all, should be active, focused, engaged—and Cooper suggested some ways to make it so.
First, read aloud—at least some of the time. “Every line of Shakespeare, every line of Milton, is meant to be pronounced, cannot be duly appreciated until it is pronounced.” Second, read slowly. “Take ample time. Pause where the punctuation bids one pause; note each and every comma; wait a moment between a period and the next capital letter. And pause when common sense bids you pause, that is, when you have not understood.” This led to the third dictum: “Read suspiciously. Reread. What a busy man has time to read at all, he has time to read more than once.” Elsewhere, he added another piece of advice: Learn by heart at least a few poems and passages of prose."

Thursday, December 29, 2016

"The times are gloomy. Fortunately it is not my job to brighten them." -- Freud

Image result for freud quotes the times are gloomy letter

Vienna XIX, Strassergasse 47
May 2, 1935

Dear Arnold Zweig

I am sitting in my lovely room in Grinzing, before me the beautiful garden with fresh green and reddish brown young foliage (copper beech) and state that the snowstorm with which May introduced itself has ceased (for the time being!), and that a cold sun is dominating the climate. Needless to say, my idea of enjoying spring with you on Mount Carmel was a mere phantasy. Even supported by my faithful Anna-Antigone I could not embark on a journey; in fact, I have recently had to undergo another cauterization in the oral cavity.

I am worried about your poor eyes. The intelligent oculist whom we consulted refuses to give a definite opinion without a detailed report of the condition. Why the symptoms should appear just now, he can't say. On the other hand, according to him there is no doubt that an improvement could be expected from giving the eyes a rest and a general strengthening. I assume your oculist is trustworthy?

I can't say that much is happening in my life. Since I can no longer smoke freely, I no longer want to write-or perhaps I am just using this pretext to veil the unproductiveness of old age. Moses won't let go of my imagination. I visualize myself reading it out to you when you come to Vienna, despite my defective speech. In a report on Tell-el Amarna, which still hasn't been fully excavated, I read a remark about a certain Prince Thothmes of whom nothing else is known. If I were a millionare, I would finance the continued excavations. This Thothmes could be my Moses and I would be able to boast that I had guessed right.

At the suggestion of the Fischer Verlag, I have composed a brief address for Thomas Mann's birthday (June 6) and in to it slipped a warning which I trust will not go unnoticed. The times are gloomy. Fortunately it is not my job to brighten them.

With kindest regards


Source: Letters of Sigmund Freud

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Flynn Effect is Reversing in the West

Original research study is here

James Thompson (read his entire blog post)

These results are from a study of experts in intelligence in general, and on the Flynn Effect in particular. The expert consensus is that the Flynn effect (rising IQ scores throughout the 20th century) was the result of improved general health and mass education, but is now petering out or reversing in the West. The experts expect East Asia, India, and African to see continued gains over the next several decades. The USA, however, will see a significant downward shift, due mostly to 1) migration from lower IQ countries, and 2) lower IQ people having more children than higher IQ people. It is of course interesting that the experts also cited "decline in educational values" and "worse education and school-systems."

With regard to the increase, recognize that "improved general health" means that fewer people were exposed to hunger, lead exposure, etc. Mass education doesn't necessarily boost intelligence, but it does make one more familiar with abstractions, e.g., "How are a tiger and a horse alike?" It is important that the Flynn Effect was always observed to be stronger for Fluid, rather than Crystallized Intelligence (i.e., the sort of knowledge that one might, ideally, obtain at school). Schooling also makes one less reluctant to guess on IQ tests (which is not penalized). Schooling also makes IQ testing less of a novel experience, which it was originally intended to be.

US Census data supports the lower fertility of the more educated. In 2014, these were the Childlessness Rates for Women aged 40 to 50, by educational attainment:

No High School Diploma     9.9%

High School Diploma           15%

Some College                       13.9%

Bachelor's Degree                 18.2%

Graduate/Prof'l Degree         22.5%

Thought experiment: Imagine the United States fifty years from now (2066) with these numbers, and then imagine it with the numbers reversed (i.e., 22.5% childlessness for non-high school grads and 9.9% childlessness for graduate degree holders).

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Why Literature is So Deeply Consequential -- Mark Helprin

New Criterion
"...I began to develop a deep love for what is unfortunately called literature, a ter rible name that sounds affected and preten tious. If you didn’t know the word you might guess that it was a surgical technique or an ancient technical term for part of a thatched roof, not the one word for lan guage that can be as beautiful and hypnotic as song, for a vast summing up, in precious few words, of all that is truly important. It includes snowstorms and sunlit forests pre served in their fullness and depth by a miraculous series of codes that are of such great effect that they can often be more intense than the things they describe. It represents the extraordinary courage of a sole human voice confronting death, pre serving life beyond its term, standing alone, speaking for as long as the code is conserved, even to others who have not yet been born. Is it not astounding that one can love so deeply characters who are com posites, portraits, or born of the thin air, especially when one has never seen or touched them, and they exist only in an imprint of curiously bent lines?
To make a more concise argument, one lives for a very short time, and life is incom parably precious. To live has much less to do with the senses or with ambition than with the asking of questions that have never been surely answered. To ask and then to answer these questions as far as one can one needs above all a priceless and taxing involvement with truth and beauty. These are uncom monly plentiful in music and painting, in nature itself, in the sciences, in history, and in one’s life as it unfolds—if one labors and dares to see them. But nowhere do they run together with such complexity and power as in the gracefully written word. It is not, as so many people mistake it, an element of manners, a cultural obligation, a diversion, or a means of opening the conversation at dinner parties. I have devoted my life to it not because I thought it would be a good way to earn money or because I thought it might be pleasant and interest ing, but, rather, because I love it—and I love it not only because it is so pleasingly beauti ful but because it is so deeply consequential."

Monday, December 26, 2016

"Doctor, please don't come near me. I'm made of glass."

Circa 1400, Charles VI, King of France, is attended in his bedchamber by servants and ministers
Charles VI

"The late medieval French King Charles VI was one of the most notable sufferers of glass delusion. He was reported to have wrapped himself in blankets to prevent his buttocks from breaking.
Instances of the delusion cropped up in medical encyclopaedias from across Europe. There were references in fiction - most notably Cervantes' short story The Glass Graduate of 1613, in which the hero is poisoned by a quince intended as an aphrodisiac but which instead triggers a glass delusion.
Sufferers were seen to be normal in all ways bar the belief that they had turned to glass, and so could function, albeit anxious that other people shouldn't come too close and risk shattering fragile limbs.
But in the 1830s, cases disappear from the records.
It's easy to assume society and culture are so changed that mentally ill people would no longer manifest this particular delusion.
There are reasons why someone with mental illness in the Middle Ages - or indeed the 17th Century - might manifest glass delusion. That was a time when clear glass was a new material on the scene, seen as magical, alchemical even.
Why might glass delusion reappear at a time when glass is no longer new? What contemporary psychological resonance might it have? 
Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips argues that the glass delusion has powerful contemporary resonance in a society in which anxieties about fragility, transparency and personal space are pertinent to many people's experience of, and anxieties about, living in the modern world.
The feeling of being made of glass could be a useful way of understanding how we negotiate society, a society that is increasingly crowded, in which modern technological advances isolate us and offer apparently boundary-less communication.
Novelist Ali Shaw, author of The Girl with Glass Feet, suggests that glass delusion might simply be at the extreme end of a scale of social anxiety which many of us experience to a lesser extent. The fear of tripping and breaking is really an exaggerated fear of social humiliation.
Prof Edward Shorter, a historian of psychiatry from the University of Toronto, suggests that it is the relative newness of clear glass as a material in 17th Century Europe which holds the key to understanding the disorder. Throughout history, Shorter argues, the inventive unconscious mind has pegged its delusions on to new materials and the technological advances of the age.
In the 19th Century cement delusions appeared at a time when cement emerged as a new building material, just as common delusions of recent decades include the false belief that the CIA or other security services can download thoughts through micro-transmitters, that people could "read your mind"."

Sunday, December 25, 2016

I came not to send peace, but a sword

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Matthew 10:34

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Sleigh Ride -- Johnny Mathis (1958)

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling too
Come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you
Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling you hoo
Come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you

Giddy-up giddy-up giddy-up let's go, let's look at the show
We're riding in a wonderland of snow
Giddy-up giddy-up giddy-up it's grand, Just holding your hand
We're gliding along with a song of a wintery fairy land

Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we
We've snuggled close together like two birds of a feather would be
Let's take that road before us and sing a chorus or two
Come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you

There's a birthday party at the home of Farmer Gray
It'll be the perfect ending of a perfect day
We'll be singing the songs we love to sing without a single stop
At the fireplace where we'll watch the chestnuts pop
Pop, pop, pop

There's a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy
When they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie
It'll nearly be like a picture print by Currier and Ives
These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives
These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling , ring-ting-tingling too
Come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you
Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling "You Hoo"
Come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you

Giddy-up giddy-up giddy-up let's go, let's look at the show
We're riding in a wonderland of snow-ow
Giddy-up giddy-up giddy-up it's grand, Just holding your hand
We're gliding along with a song of a wintery fairy land

Nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we
We've snuggled close together like two birds of a feather would be
Let's take that road before us and sing a chorus or two
Come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you

Lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you
Lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with
Lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with


Friday, December 23, 2016

Insomnia as Consequence of Hyperarousal

Suffer from insomnia? Perhaps it has something to do with Pride and Fear of Death.

"As important as an objective biomedical view of sleep might be, it is insufficient because it largely disregards the experience of the sleeper. It largely disregards sleep. The brain doesn’t sleep. Neither does the body. We do.
Great philosophers have taught that most of us mistake the limits of our own perception for the limits of the universe. Nowhere is this conundrum more relevant than in our contemporary take on sleep. We are mired in a pre-Copernican-like, wake-centric era regarding consciousness. We presume waking to be the centre of the universe of consciousness, and we relegate sleeping and dreaming to secondary, subservient positions.
Looking at sleep solely through waking-world eyes is like looking at a glorious night sky through dark sunglasses. We are caught in wakism, a subtle but pernicious addiction to ordinary waking consciousness that limits our understanding and experience of sleep.
Wakism underlies the medicalisation and domestication of sleep, reinforcing a dysrhythmic, relentless and speedy posture of hyperarousal. ...
Hyperarousal is an inevitable consequence of our wakism. It refers to a turbocharged pace of life that is not modulated by adequate rest.
Strongly endorsed by popular culture, hyperarousal is a socially contagious condition rooted in an arrogant disregard for natural rhythmsIt’s a cheap high, a kind of synthetic passion that is not without serious side effects.
Characterised by racing brainwaves and a rapid heartrate, hyperarousal is linked to an overheated body and mind. By tethering us to the heights of waking, hyperarousal not only interferes with our nightly descent into sleep, it also masks our daytime sleepiness. Hyperarousal and insomnia both encourage drug and substance dependence. Caffeine, energy drinks and stimulant drugs help stoke perpetual flight, while alcohol, marijuana and sedating medications provide temporary, artificial respites.
From Icarus’s unchecked aspirations to Peter Pan’s resistance to landing, hyperarousal is clearly an archetypal human challenge. We are drawn to heights, to defy gravity, to fly with the gods. We’ve learned that it’s acceptable, even preferable to be up at night. And we just don’t want to slow, descend, and stop. We see glory in breaking free from the circadian dictates of Mother Nature.
Such adolescent defiance is emblematic of our rock ’n’ roll heroes. The Stones keep rolling, Aerosmith keeps soaring, and Jim Morrison made good on his pledge to never come down. Michael Jackson’s signature moonwalk and his Neverland estate are striking symbols of our wakism. Although attributed to an overdose of propofol, the actual cause of Jackson’s death was complications of hyperarousal. The epidemic of superstar deaths associated with desperate pharmaceutical measures to descend is sobering.
Hyperarousal leaves us sick and ‘t’wired’: simultaneously tired and wired. Being t’wired is the psychological equivalent of being on the rack. While wakism perpetually draws us upward, the gravity of our mounting sleepiness pulls us downward. We are uncomfortably stretched in opposite directions by equally potent forces. Not surprisingly, hyperarousal is linked to depression, which is characterised by a persistent sense of feeling stuck.
Contemporary medical views presume that there’s nothing in the world of sleep worth personally investigating. Sleep itself is believed to lie outside of our potential for awareness. And though we can be aware of dreams, they are too often deemed meaningless. Dismissing the value of dreams shuts the door on our most accessible, direct experience of sleep. It also dampens the sensual dimensions of sleep, which are most evident in dreams. In fact, whether aware of it or not, we routinely become sexually aroused in our dream sleep.
Mythic perspectives suggest that there is something in the deep waters of sleep worth accessing, and invite us to personally investigate it. Metaphorically, they encourage us to practise our descent into the waters of sleep with our third eye open.
From a mythic perspective, deep sleep is a state of profound serenity. But we commonly fail to notice it due to our pervasive wakism. We presume awareness of deep sleep is impossible because we have no waking reference points to conceptualise, name or recall it. But emerging research in yoga nidra, which focuses on sustaining awareness into deep states of relaxation and sleep, confirm what spiritual texts have suggested for centuries: that awareness of deep sleep is, in fact, attainable. Like other mythic approaches, the Advaita Vedanta, a school of Hindu philosophy, views deep, dreamless sleep as the highest state of awareness – a return to our default consciousness, our deepest Self.
Sleep loss, then, is not simply a medical problem; it is also a critical spiritual challenge. Our epic struggles with accessing deep sleep are, fundamentally, struggles with accessing deeper aspects of ourselves. As wakists, we presume that who we are is limited to our waking-world identity. Essential parts of who we are, however, are obscured by the glare of waking life. And these become more visible at night – in the deep waters of sleep and dreams.
Deep, natural sleep threatens our wake-centric self. It makes sense that Thanatos, the Greek god of death, is the brother of Hypnos. An uneasy, archetypal relationship between sleep and death is, in fact, common in many cultures around the world. The Dalai Lama teaches that the psychospiritual experience of falling asleep is identical to that of dying. Our familiar, waking self dies in sleep. Opening to an ongoing dialogue with Hypnos – cultivating deepening awareness of sleep – teaches us that our ordinary waking self is but a limited sense of our deeper sleeping self.
The trajectory with which we approach sleep – how we dive into bed – will impact the depth of our descent. Surrendering our waking sense of self calls for a posture of humility. Humility is the antidote to hyperarousal. It counters the arrogance that informs our medicalisation and wake-centrism. Humility is the essential missing ingredient in our failed efforts at healing the insomnia epidemic."

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Cultural Literacy Test that you will probably fail

Related image
"Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by / That here, obedient to their laws / We lie"

If you aren't familiar with 8 out of the 10 items below, you were deceived by those who claimed they were educating you.

Imaginative Conservative, Joseph Pearce

"Evelyn Waugh, in his magnum opus, Brideshead Revisited, a novel which was itself inspired by a line in one of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories, lampoons the “hollow men” produced by the modern academy in his portrayal of Hooper and Rex Mottram. Hooper had “no special illusions distinguishable from the general, enveloping fog from which he observed the universe:”
Hooper had wept often, but never for Henry’s speech on St. Crispin’s day, nor for the epitaph at Thermopylae. The history they taught him had had few battles in it but, instead, a profusion of detail about humane legislation and recent industrial change. Gallipoli, Balaclava, Quebec, Lepanto, Bannockburn, Roncesvales, and Marathon—these, and the Battle in the West where Arthur fell, and a hundred such names whose trumpet-notes, even now in my sere and lawless state, called to me irresistibly across the intervening years with all the clarity and strength of boyhood, sounded in vain to Hooper…[i]
Like Hooper, the character of Rex Mottram serves to personify the “hollow man,” the crass product of the modern, disintegrated academy. In the words of Julia, his wife, he is not only ignorant but also, and even worse, he is utterly ignorant of his ignorance:
You know Father Mowbray hit on the truth about Rex at once, that it took me a year of marriage to see. He simply wasn’t all there. He wasn’t a complete human being at all. He was a tiny bit of one, unnaturally developed… I thought he was a sort of primitive savage, but he was something absolutely modern and up-to-date that only this ghastly age could produce. A tiny bit of a man pretending he was whole…[ii]
Let’s leave the “men without chests” to ponder their own navels and the “hollow men” to their own vacuity; and let’s remind ourselves of the great books written by great men, such as Chesterton, Eliot, Lewis and Waugh. And let’s remember that great men write great books because of the Great Books that they’ve read. If the twenty-first century is to produce more great men and more great books, it will have to restore a true education; and a true education is an education as if truth mattered."

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Here come 8 years of Trump, or some other Republican

Occupants of the U.S. Presidency, 1944-2016. See the simple pattern? Eight years of Democrats, followed by eight years of Republicans, followed by eight years of Democrats, etc. Death in office (FDR), assassination (JFK), resignation (Nixon), no matter.

The only exception is the singularly disastrous Carter presidency, on which the American people pulled the plug after only four years. Stagflation, gas lines, Iranian hostage crisis, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, "killer" rabbits, Three Mile Island - there was only so much they could take. Indeed, one could think of the "extra" four years handed to the Republicans in 1988 as a bonus for the successful Reagan presidency, or as reflecting the reluctance of Americans to go back to the Carter years. The winning Republican campaign strategy in 1988 was not to equate Bush and Reagan, but rather to equate Dukakis and Carter.

In any case, given the historical track record, it shouldn't be quite so surprising that Trump defeated Clinton in 2016. It was either going to be him or some other Republican candidate. And the Republicans should hold the Presidency for the next eight years, barring a disaster of Carter-esque proportions.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Factitious Disorder in a Patient Claiming to Be a Sexually Sadistic Serial Killer

Image result for flagler security rick
The person in this photo is not the patient described below. But he is a middle aged Caucasian male security guard. The famous Park Dietz MD, who argued that John Hinckley was not insane, is third author on this great little case report. By the way, if your response to this story is "the poor son of a bitch," then you might have the makings of a clinical psychologist.

Case Report

"Mr. S, a middle-aged Caucasian man, was born in the Pacific Northwest to married parents and was the middle of three children. His mother had a history of depression, and his father was an alcoholic. He described his family as being “dysfunctional,” with little, if any, emotional support from an overly intrusive mother, disciplinarian father, and two siblings. Mr. S met his childhood developmental milestones and had no reported history of intellectual or learning disabilities. He described having anxiety growing up, mainly in social situations. He denied childhood sexual abuse, but he did describe corporal punishment from his father. Mr. S had a history of alcohol abuse starting in his mid-twenties and continuing into his early forties. He denied any significant medical history. He denied legal difficulties, psychiatric hospitalizations, and suicide attempts. He was single, had never been married, had no children, and reported having only one close friend for most of his life. He never had a close long-term romantic relationship and stated a clear preference for living a solitary life. After completing high school, Mr. S joined the military and served in various non-combat occupational roles. He enlisted twice in the military and was honorably discharge after each duty. Although he served overseas for a period of time, he did not serve in a combat zone or experience physical or psychological trauma. He did not sustain any known injuries while in the military and he was never diagnosed with, or filled for, a service-connected disability. After discharge from the military, he supported himself by working as a facilities security guard, always taking the night shift given his preference for working alone and avoiding people. While living in the Pacific Northwest, he lived out of his van, which he parked outside of his mother's house. After the death of his father, he assumed the role of primary caretaker for his mother. Mr. S reported that his mother was “frail” and “elderly” but did not report that she was on disability. He reported significant resentment toward his siblings for not participating in their mother's care, prior to his mother moving into a nursing home. Several months after his mother moved into a nursing home, Mr. S relocated out of the Pacific Northwest, found a new facilities security job, moved into a new residence, and no longer lived out of his van.
One year prior to his admission to the psychiatric hospital, Mr. S sought outpatient therapy for depression and engaged in weekly supportive psychotherapy with a young female psychology intern. His psychiatrist started an SSRI antidepressant and a low dose of antipsychotic medication for “depression with psychotic features.” Mr. S's alleged psychosis consisted of “voices” of crowds of people saying things that he could not make out, which he experienced while working the night shift. He consistently attended his therapy sessions and was noted to be making progress. However, several months into his therapy, Mr. S told his therapist that he had been involved in of military combat and described himself as a decorated war hero. After several therapy sessions in which he recounted his combat experiences, Mr. S was queried as to whether he ever killed anyone, to which Mr. S replied, “During the military or after the military?” He then told his therapist that he had followed, raped, and killed numerous women during the 20 years since leaving the military.
Mr. S reported that he would follow a potential female victim for several months before raping and strangling her to death with a rope. Although he claimed to rape and kill the women, he did not describe any sexual arousal from the subjugation, torture, or killing of his alleged victims. He refused to disclose how many women he had killed, where he had killed them, or how he had disposed of their bodies. He described having purchased various supplies to aid in abduction, which he kept in the back of his van while cruising for victims. These supplies included rope and two identical sets of clothes and shoes to help evade detection by the police. He described using various techniques to track his victims, as well as evade surveillance of his activities. He informed his therapist that he was actively following a woman he had encountered in a local public library several days earlier. Mr. S acknowledged that he studied the modus operandi of famous sexually sadistic serial killers by reading books. The patient's therapist, feeling frightened and threatened by these disclosures, transferred his case to her supervisor, who then saw the patient for a few therapy sessions. Mr. S reported worsening depression, hearing more “voices,” and attempting to self-amputate his leg using a tourniquet. Consequently, Mr. S was involuntarily detained as a “danger to self” and “danger to others” for evaluation in the local psychiatric hospital.
Mr. S's admission physical and neurological examinations, routine laboratory results, and urine toxicology screen were unremarkable. His outpatient medications were continued for a provisional diagnosis of major depressive disorder, single episode, unspecified severity, with psychotic features. Mr. S refused to provide identifying information about the woman who he had been following. He shared with the inpatient treatment team that he also was having homicidal ideation toward his former sergeant, who he felt had wronged him during his military service. Efforts to locate the individual named by Mr. S were unsuccessful. Mr. S further reported that several years earlier he had planned to abduct and murder his only friend's girlfriend because she was taking his friend away from him. The inpatient treatment team contacted the District Attorney's office in order to file for continued involuntary hospitalization due to the patient's homicidal ideation and history of violence. Subsequent police investigation and review of records could not substantiate any of the patient's claims of committing multiple homicides in the Pacific Northwest.
Despite his ongoing complaints of severe depression and psychosis, including a new symptom of hearing Italian opera in the hospital at night, Mr. S appeared calm and cooperative, demonstrated bright affect, exhibited good energy and sleep patterns, did not exhibit agitation or psychomotor retardation, was not seen responding to any internal stimuli, and was never confused or disoriented. Serial examinations found no evidence of a formal thought disorder or delusional beliefs.
After the District Attorney accepted the application for the prolonged involuntary civil commitment (180-day hold), Mr. S was confronted with the inconsistencies between his self-reported symptoms and objective findings and the failure to corroborate his claims of prior homicides. In response, Mr. S then confessed that he “had made the whole thing up…about the killings…all of it” because he “wanted attention.” He said that he had never followed, raped, or killed anyone and never had an intention to do so. He said that he did not know why he claimed this, other than an “impulse came over me and I acted on it.” He had believed that his feigned history and symptomatology would make him a “more interesting” patient to his therapist. He reported feeling rejected when his therapist transferred his care to her supervisor. He had little insight into why his therapist may have been frightened by his behavior. Mr. S revealed that following his initial fabrications, and despite his initial involuntary hospitalization, he had felt too embarrassed to admit the truth. He reported that the fear of being placed in prolonged civil commitment and the confrontation by the treatment team changed his mind. The clinical team shared with the District Attorney these developments and the revised clinical judgment about the patient's dangerousness, which was in turn shared with the court. Nevertheless, the patient did not contest his hold and the court certified the patient for the 180- day hold, which was completed in the hospital, at which time the patient was discharged back to outpatient care.
Mr. S's admission diagnosis was eventually revised from major depressive disorder, recurrent episode, severe with psychotic features to factitious disorder with psychological symptoms, and cluster A traits (particularly schizoid and schizotypal traits) without meeting criteria for any one specific personality disorder. Prior to the diagnosis of factitious disorder, treatment team had also considered patient to have a dysthymic disorder, as well as cluster A traits. Therefore, during his initial treatment course and prior to the diagnosis of factitious disorder, Mr. S's antidepressant was slightly increased to target his reported low mood; he subsequently reported immediate disappearance of auditory hallucinations and increase in his mood after only two doses of his slightly higher antidepressant dose. Upon evaluation and diagnosis of factitious disorder, Mr. S's antidepressant and antipsychotic medications were ultimately discontinued without any worsening of his mood or return of his “voices.” Off all medication for several months, he continued to deny homicidal ideation, depression, or perceptual disturbance.
Psychometric testing was performed to further explore his personality traits and confirm the clinical assessment and judgment that he was feigning all of his psychological symptoms. Results of the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory, Third Edition (MCMI-III) were consistent with paranoid, schizotypal, schizoid, and borderline personality traits. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Second Edition (MMPI-2) profile suggested fabrication of psychotic and psychiatric symptoms and was invalid due to atypical responding (F scale > 120). The Miller Forensic Assessment of Symptoms Test (M-FAST), a semi-structured interview designed to detect feigning or significant exaggeration of psychiatric symptoms, showed slight symptomatic exaggeration that was below the range typically seen in those later judged to be malingering. Rorschach testing showed no evidence of a psychotic process, but instead suggested narcissistic, dependent, and borderline traits. Intelligence testing was not obtained during his hospitalization. However, Mr. S successfully served out two contracts with the military making it unlikely that he had a significant intellectual disability."

Monday, December 19, 2016

"Disgraced" former U.S. general to receive pension of $80,000/year for life

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So what do we learn from this? We  now live in a country in which the surest path to success is a job with the federal government (much like China under the Mandarins). Commission as an officer at age 22, retire at 52 with a fat pension.

USA Today
"WASHINGTON — The Army has stripped Maj. Gen. David Haight of three ranks, Army Secretary Eric Fanning said Friday, following revelations contained in documents and interviews of Haight's decade-long extramarital affair and “swinger lifestyle.
A board of his peers called for Haight to be busted to lieutenant colonel, a demotion that will cost him nearly $43,000 per year in pension pay. Fanning, in an interview, said he had accepted the recommendation after a panel of three officers reviewed Haight's conduct — and his secret second life — and determined that lieutenant colonel was the last rank in which he had served satisfactorily.
Fanning spent hours discussing the case with other general officers and read the investigative report twice before accepting the recommendation, he said.
"He’s going to be retired as a lieutenant colonel," Fanning said. "Pretty big drop."
Haight, a decorated infantry soldier and Army Ranger, had served as the director of operations for U.S. European Command until the spring. An Army investigation determined that he had had an 11-year long affair with Jennifer Armstrong, a government employee, and had misused his government cellphone to stay in contact with her.
The Army reprimanded Haight — effectively ending his career — and hauled him back to Washington. He was placed in a job with few responsibilities while the board determined his rank for retirement. Haight had been allowed to maintain his clearance to view classified material until the day after USA TODAY published the story about his secret life, and had raised questions about his susceptibility to espionage.
If Haight had been allowed to retire as a two-star general with 30 years of service, he would have been paid about $122,800. Retirement as a lieutenant colonel drops that pension to about $79,800."

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Do the Dead Know What Time It Is? -- Kenneth Patchen (1939)

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The old guy put down his beer.
Son, he said,
(and a girl came over to the table where we were:  
asked us by Jack Christ to buy her a drink.)
Son, I am going to tell you something
The like of which nobody was ever told.
(and the girl said, I've got nothing on tonight;
how about you and me going to your place?)
I am going to tell you the story of my mother's
Meeting with God.
(and I whispered to the girl: I don't have a room,
but maybe...)
She walked up to where the top of the world is
And He came right up to her and said
So at last you've come home.
(but maybe what?
I thought I'd like to stay here and talk to you.)
My mother started to cry and God
Put His arms around her.
(about what?
Oh, just talk...we'll find something.)
She said it was like a fog coming over her face
And light was everywhere and a soft voice saying
You can stop crying now.
(what can we talk about that will take all night?
and I said that I didn't know.)
You can stop crying now.     

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas -- Judy Garland (1944)

Image result for judy garland
She was 22 when she sang this song. She had a suicide attempt at 25, two weeks in Austen Riggs, ECT for depression, a second attempt at 28, alcohol-induced cirrhosis of the liver, then death by "incautious" overdosing of barbiturates (Seconal) at age 47. Poor thing.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now
Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane

Friday, December 16, 2016

Larry Colburn, hero of My Lai, RIP

Hugh Thompson is in the center, and Larry Colburn is on the right. How many of you learned about these men in school? I wonder why not.


"Larry Colburn, who became an 18-year-old American hero when he intervened with two comrades to halt the massacre of unarmed Vietnamese civilians by United States soldiers in 1968, elevating an innocuous hamlet named My Lai into a watchword for the horrors of war, died on Tuesday at his home in Canton, Ga. He was 67.
The cause was liver cancer, his wife, Lisa, said.
Mr. Colburn was the last surviving member of a three-man helicopter crew that was assigned to hover over My Lai on Saturday morning, March 16, 1968, to identify enemy positions by drawing Vietcong fire.
Instead, the men encountered an eerie quiet and a macabre landscape of dead, wounded and weaponless women and children as a platoon of American soldiers, ostensibly hunting elusive Vietcong guerrillas, marauded among defenseless noncombatants.
The crew dropped smoke flares to mark the wounded, “thinking the men on the ground would come assist them,” Mr. Colburn told Vietnam Magazine in 2011.
“When we would come back to those we marked,” he said, “we’d find they were now dead.”
Audaciously and on his own initiative, the pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson Jr., swooped down and landed the copter.
“Mr. Thompson was just beside himself,” Mr. Colburn recalled in an interview in 2010 for the PBS program “The American Experience.” “He got on the radio and just said, ‘This isn’t right, these are civilians, there’s people killing civilians down here.’ And that’s when he decided to intervene. He said, ‘We’ve got to do something about this, are you with me?’ And we said, ‘Yes.’ ”
Mr. Thompson confronted the officer in command of the rampaging platoon, Lt. William L. Calley, but was rebuffed. He then positioned the helicopter between the troops and the surviving villagers and faced off against another lieutenant. Mr. Thompson ordered Mr. Colburn to fire his M-60 machine gun at any soldiers who tried to inflict further harm.
“Y’all cover me!” Mr. Thompson was quoted as saying. “If these bastards open up on me or these people, you open up on them. Promise me!”
“You got it boss,” Mr. Colburn replied. “Consider it done.”
Mr. Thompson, Mr. Colburn and Glenn Andreotta, the copter’s crew chief, found about 10 villagers cowering in a makeshift bomb shelter and coaxed them out, then had them flown to safety by two Huey gunships. They found an 8-year-old boy clinging to his mother’s corpse in an irrigation ditch and plucked him by the back of his shirt and delivered him to a nun in a nearby hospital.
Crucially, they reported what they had witnessed to headquarters, which ordered a cease-fire. By then, as many as 500 villagers had been killed."


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dorie Miller, hero of Pearl Harbor -- Navy Cross citation

Missing in action and presumed dead, November 24, 1943, after his ship, the USS Liscombe, sunk by Japanese torpedo.

Navy Cross Medal
for services as set forth in the following:

CITATION: "For distinguished devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and disregard for his own personal safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. While at the side of his Captain on the bridge, Miller, despite enemy strafing and bombing and in the face of a serious fire, assisted in moving his Captain, who had been mortally wounded, to a place of greater safety, and later manned and operated a machine gun directed at enemy Japanese attacking aircraft until ordered to leave the bridge."

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Among recent veterans, the suicide rate is much worse than the "22 a day" slogan implies

Image result for veteran suicide
Among recent veterans, the suicide rate is much worse than the "22 a day" slogan implies. Photo from Buzzfeed.

WaPo Factchecker
"A new study funded by the Army shows the suicide rate for veterans who served in recent wars is much lower than 22 a day. [This might be so, but it is also irrelevant; it's the rates per 100,000 that matter, Ed.]  The study, published in the February 2015 Annals of Epidemiology, is the first large population-based study of post-service suicide risk among this population. Researchers used veteran records from two Defense Department databases, verified Social Security information and used the CDC’s National Death Index Plus. They studied 1.3 million veterans who were discharged between 2001 and 2007. Among deployed veterans in this report, 32.6 percent were born in 1978-1981 and 30 percent were born in 1982-1990.
Between 2001 and 2009, there were 1650 deployed veterans and 7703 non-deployed veteran deaths. Of those, 351 were suicides among deployed veterans and 1517 were suicides among non-deployed veterans. That means over nine years, there was not quite one veteran suicide a day.
This is not to say, however, that suicide is not a concern among that population. One in two veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars say they know a fellow service member who attempted or committed suicide, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Health poll."

So, who will check the Fact Checkers? The study cited above reported 1,868 suicide deaths out of 1.3 million veterans discharged between 2001 and 2007. That's a suicide death rate of 143.7 out of every 100,000 people in that recent veteran population (rate/100,000 persons is the standard way to report suicide rates). That's a huge and alarming number. Essentially, recent veterans are dying by suicide at about seven-times the rate of other American males.

For comparison sake, the suicide death rate for American males is 21.1, and for White Males, the most at-risk demographic for death by suicide, it is 24.1. White Males account for 82 of the 117 deaths by suicide each day in the United States (70%).

My problem with the "22 veteran suicides a day" claim is that that it conflates veterans of various eras. I would prefer to see reported rates for veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan era (e.g., 143.7/100,000), First Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea, and World War II.

If the 22 a day statistic is accurate, that means 8,030 veteran suicide deaths a year. According to the VA, there are 21,368,156 American veterans, so that would mean a suicide death rate of 37.6 per 100,000. (8,030 divided by 21,368,156, and then multiplied by 100,000.)

Given that, according to the CDC, the suicide death rate is 38.8 per 100,000 for males aged 75 and older, 26.6 for males aged 65-74, and 29.7 for males aged 45-64, the "the 22 a day" claim does not seem outrageous to me.

We should probably brace ourselves for yet further increases in suicide deaths, as the "peak Vietnam generation" (age 20 in 1968) are only 68 years old and have seven more years until they reach the deadliest suicide age range.

Here's a table I created, using #veterans by age group, multiplied by three suicide rates (Males, White Males, 22/day Veterans). It assumes that the rates are the same across age group, which they doubtless are not.

US Males White Males Veterans
Age Groups #Veterans 21.1 24.1 37.6
< 20 5,793 1.28 1.40 2.18
20-24 231,391 51.14 55.77 87.00
25-29 761,053 168.19 183.41 286.16
30-34 1,005,899 222.30 242.42 378.22
35-39 1,145,089 253.06 275.97 430.55
40-44 1,187,405 262.42 286.16 446.46
45-49 1,555,295 343.72 374.83 584.79
50-54 1,758,347 388.59 423.76 661.14
55-59 1,915,263 423.27 461.58 720.14
60-64 1,956,181 432.32 471.44 735.52
65-69 2,767,254 611.56 666.91 1040.49
70-74 2,531,807 559.53 610.17 951.96
75-79 1,636,010 361.56 394.28 615.14
80-84 1,377,425 304.41 331.96 517.91
85+ 1,533,944 339.00 369.68 576.76
Grand Total 21,368,156 4722.36 5149.73 8034.43
Per Day 12.94 14.11 22.01