Thursday, December 13, 2012

Murder plot against Justin Beiber


I am really upset about the murder plot against Justin Beiber.  I am glad that it was foiled, but, still, it upsets me.

I'm not a Justin Beiber fan, but that doesn't mean I hate him.  I see lots of hate messages against him on YouTube.  Any time he appears on a video there are hate messages below.  

It's as if he attracts bullies like a magnet.  

They hate the fact that he sings in a high voice. They hate the fact that he seems a bit effeminate. These things enrage them. 

Why?

It seems to be some kind of bizarre, criminal instinct on the part of certain people.  

I note that the plotters were in prison. They say that bullies tend to end up as criminals, so I guess it makes sense that bullies would be worst in prison.

This seems to be an example of what goes on daily in schoolyards, where kids who don't match some ideal are plagued with bullying.  This has been a particular concern to me, because my kids and I have Asperger's Syndrome.  That means that we were the sort of people who attracted bullies as well.  I identify with Justin in this respect.

Somehow this basic process where people who are different get bullied  needs to be cut off, if true civilization is to be achieved.  

I notice that Tom Cruise, one of my favorite actors, seems to attract haters and bullies as well, which also concerns me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

on changing names to avoid stigma



This is a response to


When I was younger, I moved to a new city to take a job.  When I got there, I was told to avoid a particular apartment complex on the grounds that the units were substandard.  I ended up living in that complex, because the owner changed the name, so I did not recognize it.

I lived there for about a year and a half.  During that time, they changed their name again.  

I am persuaded that they changed the names, so that newcomers who had not been warned would not recognize that this was the complex they had been told to avoid.  

Ever since then I have been very suspicious whenever people change the names of a person, place or thing to avoid stigma.  The stigma does not come from the name.  The name acquires stigma, because of our feelings toward the thing described.  

The word "retarded" used to be regarded as kind, but acquired stigma.  Now people don't like the word and use "developmentally disabled," or some such thing instead.

I have particularly noticed this issue in reference to people of African descent in the US.  

In a song from the 19th century Stephen Foster referred to these people as "darkies."  Foster was later condemned as racist, though I don't think he really intended harm to the people so described.  His songs actually expressed affection for them.  He merely expressed attitudes of his era, not truly understanding that they were hurtful.  Nevertheless, the language he used was rejected as offensive, though, again, I do not think it was intended to be.

In the first half of the twentieth century, the word "colored" was considered polite in referring to these people.  At that era, the famous organization called NAACP, used the word "colored" in describing its own people.  That was considered good.  The word "black" was considered insulting.

Later on, the word "colored" became considered insulting, and the word "Negro" was adopted.  The United Negro College Fund used this word.  This word is the Spanish word for "black."  Despite the fact that "Negro" was at one time considered acceptable, the dread "n" word, which I dare not even type here, which was derived from "Negro," is considered obscene.

Nevertheless, people of African descent consider it acceptable to call each other by the dread "n" word, while becoming highly offended if a "white" person uses that word.  Moreover, the perfectly innocent word "niggardly," which means "stingy" sounds sufficiently similar to the "n" word that no one can use the perfectly innocent word without becoming a target of public harassment, which I find appalling.

The word, "Negro," was considered polite when I was a child, but then it became considered impolite by the time I was a teen -- after Martin Luther King, Jr., who used that word, was assassinated.

The next fashionable word was "black."  When my mom was in college, that was definitely a "faux pas" to say "black," but that attitude changed.

After "black" came "African American," which was considered more similar to "Italian American" or "Japanese American."  

The problem with "African American," was that many people are of mixed race and, moreover, it was cumbersome.

Then the term "people of color," was introduced.  This is quite similar to "colored," which was used in the first half of the twentieth century, so we have come almost full circle.

Nevertheless, I find "people of color" insulting, because it implies that people, like me, of European descent, lack color, which is not a nice thing to say.  I have color.  I am not "white."  I am beige and pink.  Moreover, I think I have a colorful personality.

I am also a member of the Religious Society of Friends.  We have a subgroup that used to be called "FLGC" (Friends for Lesbian and Gay Concerns).  After a while, some people got offended by this term, so they changed it to "FLGBTQC" (Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer Concerns).  I found that odd, because the word "queer" used to be regarded as insulting, but now, apparently, some people like to be called that.

I really wish we would stop renaming things on the grounds of stigma.  The stigma does not come from the name.  The stigma comes from the thing named.  Changing the name does not remove the stigma.

This is similar to the situation in my house, where the lead paint soaks through into the latex paint.  They developed an encapsulant  paint to paint over lead paint, to try to avoid this problem, but I wonder how long the encapsulant paint really solves the problem.  The poison seeps into the new words , just as the lead seeps into the latex paint.

The problem is with the stigma itself, not the name.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

General Petraeus and the biology of alpha male primates


General Petraeus's extramarital affair is dominating the news today.

On the one hand, I don't like adultery; nor do I trust high government officials.

On the other hand, adultery is so very common that I fail to understand how it can be a public scandal -- or even news -- much less a court martial worthy crime.

The fact of the matter is that alpha male primates tend to be polygamous.  It's not clear to me that they truly have a voluntary choice in this.

To me, this is very similar to the issues surrounding same sex marriage.  People cannot choose whether they are straight or gay.  Similarly, I suspect that alpha males cannot choose whether or not to be polygamous.

Polygamous behavior by alpha males has been a great source of concern for females who have to share their attention -- and also for beta males who are unable to find mates, because alpha males dominate the field.  Monogamy has been a solution proposed for the benefit of females and beta males for thousands of years; but, clearly, it does not work.

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over and expecting different results.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Addendum:

Some afterthoughts on 11/14/12

Today I am looking at some of the other behavior of Bradley, namely bizarre anonymous e-mails to Kelley & bringing home large quantities of classified documents.

It appears that she does have some issues of judgment.  Having an affair with a married man is also a judgment issue.

We also have to look at Petraeus's judgment in consorting with such a person, but this is a stereotypical situation: sycophants clinging to the rich and powerful for dubious purposes.

This does raise questions with respect to national security.

On the other hand, his public appearances with his wife may raise issues of national security, since people wanting to get at him might get at him through her.  In China, the private lives of public officials are regarded as state secrets, for this reason.

Nevertheless, I continue to suspect that polygamous behavior is biological, and not susceptible to elimination by public shaming and discipline.

Moreover, I suspect that secrecy and shame make the polygamous behavior more dangerous from a security perspective, rather than eliminating it.

Rather than cloaking normal, biological behaviors in secrecy, let's out the sycophants.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

On legalizing marijuana

Some people assume that when I advocate for legal marijuana that means that I use the stuff.

No, I do not.

I used it twice, when I was about 20.  Both times I had exactly the same reaction.  I went to bed & fell asleep.  It seemed like a very stupid waste of time to me -- and I never liked the stuff.  

Some people who love marijuana can't imagine that there are people who don't like it.  They didn't believe Bill Clinton when he said he didn't like it -- yet it was perfectly clear that Clinton's choice of intoxicant was of an entirely different sort, i.e. female.  There were even photos of Clinton pretending to drink at parties, because he didn't like to drink, which I also don't.  There are those of us out there who don't like intoxicants.

My father found that he hated morphine when he was dying of cancer, and needed pain relief.  That was a surprise.  Morphine is supposed to be addictive, but here he hated it and was always turning down his drip.  Well, that's an aside.

So, back to legalization.

Why do I favor it?

The money used for marijuana enforcement is poorly spent, because the drug is not truly dangerous.  Why should my tax dollars go to something useless like this?

The drug laws in general provide a pretext for the erosion of civil rights, as they enmesh the government in the business of spying on the private lives of otherwise inoffensive citizens.  There are laws allowing the government to take real property if there are illegal drugs on it, for instance.

The laws making marijuana illegal make it difficult to investigate medical benefits of marijuana, as well.

For instance, my mother suffered from glaucoma.  The medications she was given for this disease were ineffective.  We never knew if that was because of her forgetting to take them, due to onset of early stages of dementia.  

At one point, she was taking 4 different eye meeds, and was still unable to control her pressure.  Each med had a different timing, once a day, twice a day, three times a day, and four times a day.  Keeping track of them was enormously stressful for her, and took up much of her attention in the last useful year of her life, before Alzheimer's became her most prominent health problem.

My mother was always a very high stress person, and i always felt that that stress was a big contributing factor in the dementia.  If she had been able to take marijuana, it could have killed two birds with one stone: the eye issue and the stress issue.

In any case, she ended up having to have surgery.  The surgery resulted in her getting herpes in the eye, which in turn ultimately made her go blind in that eye.  

The other eye went with a cataract that could not be treated by surgery, because by that time her Alzheimer's had progressed too far for surgery.

In any case, I firmly believed that if my mother had been allowed to use marijuana to control her eye pressure it would have vastly improved her quality of life in those end years, which were otherwise hugely depressing due to the dementia.   You can't imagine how furious it makes me that the government acted to prevent us from trying this alternative.

The part below is now out of date, fortunately: 
 
I am appalled that the federal government continues to try to oppose medical marijuana and intervene in the internal affairs of states who want to legalize this drug.  We need to balance our federal budget, not waste money on undermining the sovereignty of our states.

Back off Obama.  I voted for you, but that doesn't mean I like all your policies.  You're dead wrong here.  Dead wrong.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New offer

I am making a new offer to people.

I have a stack of my books in my basement.  I have never sold them, because I don't know how to collect sales tax.

I will give you a copy of my books, if you agree to write reviews on amazon.com & barnesandnoble.com -- and if you agree to a telephone interview first, so that I can determine that you are not a crank.

Just contact me on twitter: @AnnalisseMayer

You don't have to give it 5 stars, so long as you don't completely pan it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wind in the Trees (a poem)

Wrote this 6/1/12

Not sure why I didn't post it


Long sighs of the wind in the trees
A rainstorm brews, though its showers
May scatter elsewhere.
I got inside before it started
So my socks are still dry.

I wonder what will happen
To that beggar lady
Who was sitting on the sidewalk
Across from Grand Central
With her baby.

I didn't give her any money.
I wonder if that was right or wrong.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

On the deficit


I'm horrified by the budget deficit, but my confidence in Republicans to fix that issue is nil.  In recent years, it is Republicans who have increased the deficit.  Reagan was really irresponsible and ran up a huge deficit. Carter ran up the same deficit in real dollars in four years as Ford ran in two.  Clinton eliminated the deficit.  Bush created the suicide strategy of reducing taxes while starting two expensive wars, which left our country in a very fragile situation when the real crisis hit, which is what Obama was faced with.  Obama had to spend to counter the crisis.

The past shows Republicans to be borrow and spend people while Democrats are tax and spend people. I find the latter more responsible.

Therefore my horror about the deficit and my certainty that a currency crisis must follow do not lead me to want to vote Republican.

--------

Of course, being pro choice & pro marriage equality also makes me lean Democratic.

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Neither party is talking about age discrimination, which is my big bugaboo

Friday, October 5, 2012

Understanding the bondage of self / step 3

I wrote this back in 2008, but decided to share it now


What is "bondage of self?"

I wake up in the morning.  My eyes are closed.  I am inside myself, except for the sensation of bedding around me.  I open my eyes and I see something outside -- but, even if I am seeing something outside,  I am still inside of here.

Before I was in program my thought was always "I don't want to get up.  I want to go back to sleep.  If it was a weekend I would close my eyes and start fantasizing -- fantasizing about Tom Cruise usually -- fantasizing that he would make my life more comfortable: sexually, materially, excitement-wise.  I would imagine him loving me, taking care of me, needing me.  I might lie there for an hour or two, fantasizing.

If the world were as I imagined it, it would be better.  I would get what I want for myself.

Now, before I open my eyes, I start praying:

Good morning, Shiva. (though I'm thinking of switching to "Mommy Shiva")
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the help I am going to receive to day.
Please direct my thoughts.
Please remove these motives: self-seeking, self-pity, dishonesty, and fear.
Please direct my course, give me an inspiration, a thought, a decision, a vision of my next step, what I need to deal with problems
Please help me relax, take it easy, and not struggle.
Free me of self will
Please help me make good food, time, and money decisions today.

I say this prayer before I open my eyes partly because I want to get deep into my subconscious, which I hope is closer to the surface just as I awaken out of sleep.  Sometimes, if the radio alarm clock isn't going off, I find myself starting the prayer and falling back asleep before I finish it.  Then I think maybe HP wants me to get more sleep. Sometimes, on weekends, I start the prayer several times and fall back asleep each time.

I am trying to make myself continuously oriented toward what HP wants rather than what I want.  I also do yoga every morning and evening, to improve my spiritual focus.

I pray throughout the day, also -- asking for resentments and fears to be removed, asking for guidance with decisions.

Before I go to bed, I pray

Shiva,
Please forgive my resentment, selfishness, dishonest, and fear
Please direct me to make necessary apologies, speak what I should not have left unsaid, be kinder and more loving, improve where I have not done my best, not think of myself, take any necessary corrective action
Please free me from worry, remorse, and morbid reflection
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the help I've received today
Please help me make good food, time, and money decisions tomorrow
Please help: and then I list people who I feel need help
And please help us all live out Baha'u'llah's vision for the world.

Then I meditate before sleeping, though I often fall asleep while meditating

I am hoping that these prayers, based on the BB 11th step, just before falling asleep will also drift into my subconscious and help me have better surrender from a much deeper place.

Still, I find that I am not entirely surrendered.  To a great extent, I am still preoccupied with *me*.  I am afraid of the future.  I am afraid of economic collapse.  I am afraid of war.  I am afraid of poverty and suffering.  I am afraid of injury to or failure of my children.  I feel shame when I think others are displeased with me.  I want more money.  I want a husband.  I want more power, fame, glory.  I want more time.

And this is part of the bondage of self, focusing on me, me, me -- rather than being surrendered to HP's will for me.

I must say I am finding the Al-anon thing a bit confusing, though, as they do emphasize that we have to take care of ourselves and focus on ourselves, because focusing too much on taking care of and fixing others is also a sort of self-destructive, addictive behavior.  This sometimes seem to contradict the Big Book.

And, yet, in some sense it does not.  If my focussing on others involves trying to remake them into what *I* think they are supposed to be ("Why do they hurt *my* feelings?  Why do they do self-destructive or selfish things that are uncomfortable for *me* to watch or that hurt *my* security?  Why don't they reform themselves to make *me* more comfortable?") rather than what accepting them as they naturally are, then I am still in the bondage of self.

What does it mean to be relieved of the bondage of self?

I don't suppose it is possible for most humans to achieve this.  *I* still wake up every morning inside this body and open *my* eyes or otherwise begin to sense the world through *my* ears or *my* nose or *my* skin.  I still see the world from *my* perspective.  I am a human being.  I am not God.  I cannot see all things from all perspectives at once -- and if I could I would be completely overwhelmed with data beyond my computing powers.

Still, if my sense of self is lesser, I can start to see things from a few more perspectives.  "This person is not paying attention to me or is grumpy, because this person is tired.  He can't be expected to take care of *my* needs when he is tired, because he is too overwhelmed with his own.  The world is not all about *me.*"

There is such a classic example going on in my Quaker Meeting right now.  Quakers have a history of resisting authority.  Early Friends refused to use the formal "you" to the king and called him by the informal "thou" instead.  They refused to take their hats off to the king.  Even modern Friends like to wear buttons that say "Question Authority."  

We have hired a young woman in her early 20's from another Quaker Meeting to watch our children.  There was a recent incident where the children were defiant and uncooperative to this woman.  The young woman complained.  Some parents had their children apologize.  One father, though, was all into this "Question Authority" business and felt that his children should have the right to question authority.

This young woman is overweight.  She is full of resentment over this situation.  She wants her authority accepted. She wants people obviously in authority to stand behind her.  She and this father are in an angry dispute.

He is locked in his bondage of self.  He is thinking of how this situation would have looked to him, perhaps, when he was a child.  He is becoming his children.  He is seeing the young woman as an authority.  He is angry at her for being an authority.  His face is getting red.  His muscles are tensed.  His eyes look insane.  

From my perspective, though, he is not looking at the fact that he is old enough ot be her father -- that in fact he is the authority -- that we as a group hire her, that we are her employers, her boss.  If we foment rebellion by tacitly encouraging our children to be rude and defiant, then we are really being very inconsiderate to her, since we hired her to keep order.

She is locked in the bondage of self.  She cannot imagine herself as an authority, really.  She wants to be an authority.  She feels unsupported. She is making herself sick.  Her face is getting red.  Her eyes are filling with tears.

From my perspective, she cannot see that this father is actually pretty emotionally disturbed.  It's easy to be deceived by his cool, British demeanor and accent, but really he's fairly unstable.  He is often angry and irrationally so.  He often seems to hear something other than what is said.  She cannot feel pity, patience, and tolerance for him.  She thinks something is wrong with her, because he is insane and it isn't being fixed for her.  She is impatient with the Meeting, which she also regards as "authorities," though in fact the Meeting has no "authority."  

In fact, no one is allowed to have authority over anyone else in a Quaker Meeting.  My personal experience is that the older people in our Meeting have a lot of problems with anger.  They get all flustered and overwhelmed with dealing with an angry, irrational person like this father.  They bend themselves out of shape trying to control people who are angry to be less angry. They fear losing Meeting members and their families.  We are a small Meeting.  We need more members.  They get in a tizzy.

The father is sick.  The Meeting members are sick.  The young woman cannot see that.  She can only see that her need for authority and self-confidence are being attacked.  She feels emotionally sick.  Many people are stuck in their current position.

I did see, though, that some of our members of the Clearness and Counsel committee were meeting in silent worship with the father.  I have found that sometimes that works.  Sometimes, if we sit with a group of people and focus together on God, clarity ensues, different perspective, a whole greater than the sum of its parts.  Not always, perhaps, but still sometimes.

How does God see this?  How does God see us?  Each one of us: the father, the young woman, the older members of the Quaker Meeting -- all of us are bound up in our own little issues: resentment, fear, disappointment, self-pity, jealousy, desire to control.  Many of have only minimal awareness of what the others' perspectives are.  Many have very distorted awareness of what they look like to others or how their own distorted perspectives are affecting their connection with others.

Maybe, if we start praying, we start breaking out of that.

If I am relieved of the bondage of self, I am to be liberated from the limited perspective of "*My* feelings are hurt.  *I* didn't get what *I* want.  Other people are bad, because they don't do what *I* think is right.  *I* am a bad person, because other people seem upset with me.  Why don't they give *me* more strokes?  Why don't they see it *my* way?"

Maybe I start thinking, "Other people have problems that they need to recover from with God's help.  They behave sub-optimally.  This does not mean that I am a bad person or that God doesn't love me or even that these other people don't love me.  I can't fix all these problems."

Or maybe I don't think at all.  Maybe there is just that non-verbal presence, that conscious contact with the Other, where I flow along, like the water in a river, in the natural course of things, past the trees, the flowers, the buildings, the people.  I do what I am naturally supposed to do, because I am who I am, the way the water in the river is what it is.  Other people do what they are naturally supposed to do, because they are who they are, the way the water in the river is what it is.  We are all part of a greater whole, just as the river is part of the scenery, all in conscious contact with that One.








Thursday, October 4, 2012

Last night's presidential debate


My mother was a member of the League of Women Voters.  She taught me to be politically engaged.  Recently, I feel increasingly reluctant to go down this path.  

I watched the debate because I follow a celebrity on twitter, under another pseudonym.  This celebrity was watching the debate and tweeting funny comments about it.  There were several of us, chatting with each other, following the celebrity, following the debate, and following a fact checker.  It was a very absorbing experience, but I don't think I heard very much about what the candidates were saying.

I found listening to them very difficult.  They were hurling statements back and forth.  Often they seemed to contradict each other.  It was impossible to check what they were saying.  There wasn't time to read the links the fact checker was putting up with detailed explanations of words used, like Dodd-Frank.

Afterwards, the pollsters said viewers felt Romney had won.  I didn't feel that at all.  I  liked Obama's personality better.  He was calmer, slower -- made better use of dramatic pauses, had a more beautiful smile.   I thought Romney seemed more nervous, more aggressive.  Also, I thought Romney's smile when Obama was talking seemed sickly & weak.

This kind of confirms my feeling of being a space alien.  I can look at a situation and it seems like I see things that are different from what other people see.

I want a calm, measured person as president.  I don't want an aggressive, nervous person.

Also, I think Romney looks over-groomed and Obama looks more natural and human.  I like that more natural look.

Anyway, I'm still voting for Obama.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Musings on bank bailouts & property redistribution

One characteristic of the Great Depression was that property ownership was de-concentrated.  In other words, the percentage of property held by the top economic tier of the population was reduced, and the percentage of property held by the lower economic tiers was increased.

The current depression -- and I would insist that this *is* a depression -- is different.  Property ownership has become more concentrated.

I am feeling that this is likely due to the fact that three large investment banks were bailed out right at the start.  People thought that this would prevent a depression, but it really hasn't.  What has happened is that it has allowed the stock market to recover without the job market recovering.

I wonder whether we might have a broader recovery if the banks had been allowed to fail.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Maybe the world really is going to end in 2012

We've got Israel & Iran facing off against each other & saying they will use nukes.

We've got North Korea threatening to use nukes.

We've got China & Japan facing off over a few tiny, uninhabitable islands

Uggh.

This really could happen.  The US & Russia could be sitting calmly, making friends, long past our cold war, and these other folks could just get it going.

Let's please find an alternative.

PLEASE?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Terror after Tweeting Tom Cruise


I tend to be the sort of person who hides under a rock -- quaking, expecting to be punished.  This comes from having lived with very high drama parents, and particularly  a father whose rages were unpredictable and terrifying.

So, last week, I did something that was out of character to me.  I tweeted to Tom Cruise that my book, When Alice Met Her Favorite Movie Star in an Elevator, started out as a fantasy about him.

I've always been terrified to mention his name in the context of this book.

The first reason is the fictional religion that I made up in the book.  I hope, if he does actually read the book, he'll understand that this weird, fictional religion, is not intended to be a commentary on any real religion.  The hope was, rather, to explore the experiences of my character in getting to know someone whose religion seemed strange to her.

The second reason is that the movie star in the book is an emotional wreck, at least at times.  This is not meant to imply that I think Tom is an emotional wreck.  No.

My male protagonists have always been emotional wrecks.  There are in turn two reasons for that.

First, I grew up with a mom who was an emotional wreck.  I was her little therapist, growing up.  I developed a neurotic belief, which I hope I am getting over, that taking care of a person who is an emotional wreck is the highest form of love -- though I still tend to be fascinated with high drama people.

Second, as a person with Asperger's Syndrome, I have a hard time getting in touch with my emotions.  That's a documented symptom of my type of neurology.  I have discovered that one way that my subconscious seems to try to communicate emotions that I am not aware of is to project them on larger than life, mythical fantasy characters.  Thus, the celebrity protagonists in my novels -- when they fall apart emotionally -- are really a projection of myself, not a commentary on the object of my fantasy.

So I hope he realizes that I'm not meaning to criticize any real religion or imply that any real person is a head case.

Also, I made up a whole bunch of details regarding this male protagonist's life.  These are just fictional devices in the book and are not meant to imply that any real person has those details in his life.  One theme the book explores, for instance, is workaholism -- which is as much one of my problems as it is anyone else's.  Again, the male protagonist of the book is really a projection of me more than of anyone else.

So I don't know whether to hope that he reads it or hope that he doesn't read it.  I tend to fear that, like my father, he will be easily infuriated with me. I hope not.  I really do enjoy his movies -- though I haven't seen all of them.  I especially liked hearing him sing in "Rock of Ages," something I had fantasized hearing him do for a long time, ever since I heard him sing in "Top Gun" and noticed how good he was.  

In keeping with my obsession with the idea of a male protagonist who is an emotional wreck, the high point of the movie for me was when he sang "In my life there's been heartache and pain.  I don't know if I can face it again."  He just did that *so* well and it was just so cool, for me, hearing him sing that.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Sol 24 (a poem)



I'm a lazy poet.  I just sort of journal short lines as an emotional release.  I don't put the kind of effort into it that I put into my novels.  So here's one about the photo that NASA just released of the rover tracks in the crater up there on Mars:



Tracks in the sand

Across a trackless waste

Gravel and rock

Drier than the driest desert

Colder than the coldest winter

A busy robot

Preoccupied with tasks

Programmed by busy people

Unaware of the silence

Unaware of the quintessential emptiness

Driving from nowhere to nowhere

In a crater

Surrounded by mountains

Looking for?

Life? Can you really think it's there?

Water? As if any water

Could mitigate that emptiness

That silence, that lack

Of what makes a planet

Into a home

Do we really think

There can be any other home?

Do we really think

There can be another terra?

Do we really think

That is a picture

Of anything other than

Loneliness?

Driving from nowhere

To nowhere

Busy with tasks

That seem so futile

A robotic vehicle

Alone.



Friday, August 24, 2012

How Asperger's Sydrome was explained to me

My son was one of the first people diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when it was first added to DSM IV in 1995.  At the time, this is how the psychiatrist, who was affiliated with a teaching hospital, explained it to me.

We are supposed to be born with an invisible antenna should allow us to interpret facial expressions, gestures and tones of voice instinctively and give them meaning.  The person with Aspeger's Syndrome is missing this antenna or it is damaged.

90% of communication between people is nonverbal.  People with Asperger's Syndrome miss most of that 90%.

Infants, before they are speaking verbally, are learning this non-verbal communication.  They learn, for instance, that, if they smile, mom smiles back.  If they cry, mom looks concerned.  If they poop, maybe mom looks disgusted. 

As a result of theses observations, infants begin to shape a mental model of what other people are like.  They come to understand that other people have an internal process that is responsive to the infant.

The child with Asperger's Syndrome never gets this early development. 

By that time, my son was 5.  The psychiatrist told us that his understanding of other people was still that of an infant, i.e. other people are here to serve me, e.g. Mom brings me food.  I certainly noticed that even a few years later that my son said that he felt that people were nice or were his friend if they did what he told them to do.

He could not notice the little signals that would lead up to someone getting very angry.  He would notice if someone was mad enough to turn red and scream, but not the subtleties leading up to that.  He still, at age 21, has a hard time visualizing how he contributes to someone else becoming furious at him; and especially has a hard time conforming his behavior to someone else's desires.

One of my greatest fears is that he might end up in a conversation with a police officer where he might be told, for instance, to put his hands up -- and he would refuse or delay -- resulting in getting shot.  He just is not able to conform his behavior to the desires of others, or understand when conforming might be important or urgent.

He did have a very good therapist as a child who did mitigate this somewhat.  She played role playing games with him where his little doll would do something nasty to her little doll and her little doll would say "I don't like this.  This makes me feel bad."  She would do that over and over, ad nauseum.  I'm not sure how much sank in.

What seemed to help him more was when he got into special ed and a wonderful school psychologist taught him interpersonal relationships as a course with a curriculum of points he could learn intellectually. 

Another thing that comes from not being able to engage in the constant, instinctive, nonverbal banter that links neurotypical people is an extreme attachment to objects and routines.  For instance, when we rearranged furniture in the dining room when my son was 3 because we were having guests, he became hysterical and had to be shut in his room for most of the evening, screaming.  Even now, when he travels, he has to have 5 suitcases with him, even for a 5 day trip -- and he dislikes travel a great deal, because of the disruption to his routine  Fortunately, he is a strong young man who can carry a lot

He does have sensory integration issues, for instance extreme sensitivities to tastes and textures, which give him problems in the presence of various foods.  Fortunately some of that seems to be fading now that he is 21.  My understanding, though, is that these sensory integration issues are not considered central to Asperger's, but are in fact a comorbid disorder.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ban 1200 calorie diets

This article really makes me mad:

http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/does-1-200-calorie-day-look-173600166.html

No one should ever be put on a 1200 calorie diet. Low calorie diets are extremely dangerous.

People are overweight, because they overeat. Putting them on a restrictive food plan is stupid. The remedy for overeating is eating normally, not going anorexic.

People lose weight better on a maintenance level food plan, because the metabolism keeps working. A 1200 calorie diet, particularly if done repeatedly, will shut down the metabolistm and make it virtually impossible to lose weight.

Medical professionals who recommend 1200 calorie diets should lose their licenses to practice. This type of diet is one cause of the obesity epidemic.

Restricting also leads to starve/binge eating patterns. After a period of feeling deprived, people will almost inevitably binge. If you binge with your body in a low metabolism, storage mode induced by a 1200 calorie diet, the result of the binge will be converted to fat much more readily.  This leads to the well-known effect of yo-yo dieting, which is weight gain.

Moreover, for super morbidly obese people, it takes a long time for the body to burn off the fat. If they are on a 1200 calorie diet for an extended period of time, they can die of an anorexia induced heart attack long before they get to normal weight.

It is time for all right thinking people to roundly denounce the 1200 calorie diet.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Michelle Obama promulgates myths about weight loss

Say the serenity prayer, Annalisse!  There it is again: a public figure giving out dangerous misinformation about weight loss.

It is a myth that a high protein, high fat breakfast is unhealthy, just a myth. 

Fat is a necessary nutrient.  Fat is critical in the digestion of other foods.  Fat is critical to the myelin sheaths around your nerves.  30% of your calories should be fat -- at least. 

Low fat diets were never supported by any scientific research at all.  Whenever you skimp on a necessary nutrient, you are going to end up overeating other foods to make up for it.  Low fat diets lead to obesity.

Same is true for low sodium diets.

So here is Michelle Obama, a prominent figure associated with reducing obesity, promulgating this myth by telling teen, Gabby Douglas, not to eat a McDonald's breakfast. 

Gabby is an athlete.  There is not a bit of fat on her toned body.  As an attractive public figure, she is at risk of anorexia.  She is the last person in the world who should be told not to eat a hearty breakfast -- even in jest.  Even jokes can lead to dysfunctional eating patterns.

What causes obesity?  Bingeing on junk food.  What causes bingeing?  Some of it is emotional; however, starve/binge eating behaviors also cause it. 

Many young people have been left with the impression that they should only eat whole grains and vegetables, no fat or protein, insufficient calories.  This is a very unhealthy idea.  Eventually, when this unhealthy idea leads them to malnutrition, they will binge on junk and get fat.

Eat your McDonald's breakfast, Gabby.  It IS healthy.  Really.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Musings on the neurology of 12 step programs, addiction, autism, and mysticism

The point with the Higher Power (HP) thing for me, for the scientist part of my mind, is the neurology of the thing. 

My first experience of this was when I did natural childbirth. At that time I was in very good spiritual condition from doing a lot of yoga & meditation. I felt I had some ability to control what is supposed to be an involuntary process, but it felt sort of magical, like ESP.

I have also read that, when schizophrenics hallucinate, it has to do with coming in contact with parts of their brains that are normally inactive. The schizophrenic brain has large regions shut down. When parts come active, it can feel like something exterior. Schizophrenics often believe their hallucinations come from God or the devil, but really it's their own brains lighting up.

Similarly, with autistic people who are also aphasic, the brain scans show a connection not happening in the brain that does in normal people. Autistic brains also scan with more and smaller cells than normal brains, which may help explain why it is difficult to make connections.

Similarly, again, with the addict, there are connections that are not being made to inhibit behavior -- a sense of observing oneself doing something that is against one's better judgment and not being able to stop it.

Brain scans also show that experienced meditators having something called synchronized gamma activity spreading over very large regions of the brain, while normal people, when they meditation have smaller regions implicated. Schizophrenics have still smaller regions.

Some studies of aphasic autistics show that low level electrical current can stimulate the brain to speak -- by forcing the connection between regions.

When I started Overeaters Anonymous, I found that I had a sensation like fluid flowing in my brain -- something that has been reported by other mystics. I have also had an experience like that when my foot falls asleep, that when circulation returns there is a sensation like fluid flowing into the foot. 



The one woman I know who emerged from profound aphasia at age 11 was also a mystic who prayed and meditated frequently.

I conclude that the mystical experience has a neurological effect that integrates brain functioning. This is useful for the addict in overcoming involuntary behavior. It could also be useful to a person with an autistic spectrum disorder who is experiencing reduced function due to excessive cells in the brain I would suspect.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

On accepting people with mental health "disorders"


Sometimes I meet someone who I suspect of being an Aspie.  Sometimes I tell them about my suspicions.  Some people are profoundly grateful to learn of this disorder, as it explains events in their lives.  Others are insulted at the suggestion that they might have a "disorder."

I believe that the only person who lacks a mental health diagnosis is someone who has failed to consult with a mental health professional.

Supposedly the army once screened 175,000 soldiers for mental health disorders and only found 12 that were "normal."  The problem with those 12 people was that it was impossible to get them to do anything.  They were too well-adjusted to feel like they needed to please anyone or have any external accomplishments.

I do not believe that people with mental "disorders" should necessarily be medicated or fixed.  Most psychiatric medications or interventions are more for the benefit of the people around the victim than for the victim him or herself.

I would prefer that we use mental health diagnoses to understand each other better -- rather than as an excuse to try to change others.  Assuming that those who bother us require our intervention to change is self-centered.  We should try to change so we can adjust to those around us and accept them as God created them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Melatonin dosages



Studies have shown that the average 20 year old, who sleeps well, produces 75 micrograms of melatonin a day.  Accordingly, we must conclude that this amount, though tiny, is all the body needs.

By contrast, the lowest quantity available for sale in pill form is 1 milligram.  In order to get the correct amount of melatonin from such a pill, one would have to cut it into thirteenths.   For those who don't know, there are one thousand micrograms in a milligram.  A microgram is almost unimaginably tiny.

People think that more melatonin is better.  This is not so.  When I take more than the required amount of melatonin, I get nightmares, which does not help my sleep. 

People find that larger quantities don't work, so they ask for even larger quantities.  I just saw some 10 milligram melatonin pills.  The more melatonin people take, the less well that melatonin going to work for the purpose of sleep.  The larger the doses sold, the more likely there will turn out to be side effects.  The more side effects there are, the more likely it is that this important supplement will be taken off the market entirely.

This is a vicious cycle.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Increasing the dosage does not work.  Dosage needs to be *decreased*.

There used to be 200 microgram tablets, which one could cut in half to get approximately the right dose, but those have been taken off the market.  

I don't get the feeling that anyone actually reads this blog.  I wish I could get someone's attention.  I want my 200 microgram tablets back.  If everyone got those and cut them in half, as I used to, then they would sleep better.

What bothers me particularly about this is that I really *need* melatonin to sleep, but only small quantities.  As the pills get larger and larger, it's hard for me to get what I need.  Plus the side effects of larger doses are making it more likely that the substance will be banned as a nutritional supplement and not be available to me.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Comments regarding excluding kids from Lady Gaga's concert in Korea


I personally love Gaga, but I am 55.  I can see rating her concerts R.  I don't think she does the most extreme things in the concerts like she does on some of the videos.

Gaga is wonderfully creative.

Yes, she does things with the intention of shocking.  Yes, I think somehow the more we try to shock the less shocking everything becomes and we have to keep upping the shock value to get the same result -- which is a bit frightening.  Nevertheless, what she does is really art.  It's not porn.  It's not done with the intent of titillating.  It's done with the intent of making us think, and think deeply.

For instance, we might feel uncomfortable seeing men in fishnets & high heels, but in fact that's just a fashion prejudice.  We might feel comfortable seeing Gaga pretend to give birth, but giving birth is not fundamentally an obscene thing.

For all Gaga's desire to be bisexual and include gays in her performance, her personal life shows pretty clearly that she is straight -- that she cannot choose to be bi, even if she wants to be, because she wasn't born that way.  For me, that is, one of the more thought-provoking parts of this story.

And the dancing and choreography are beyond fabulous.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ADDICTION: BRAIN IMAGING, DIAGNOSIS, LEGAL & SPIRITUAL IMPLICATIONS




This is a paper that I submitted last year in a college course 

ADDICTION: BRAIN IMAGING, DIAGNOSIS, LEGAL & SPIRITUAL IMPLICATIONS
ABSTRACT

I started out wanting to find out if there was a way to diagnose addiction by brain imaging. I hoped I might find information useful to some of my friends in my OA program, because such images might be help them decide that they really need to work the program or might have helped one of them avoid jail time.   After talking to an expert in the field, I concluded that that such diagnosis was not yet possible, so I just read various documents about addiction, imaging the addict brain, use of images in court, and diagnosis of addiction without imaging.




Introduction

I became interested in the subject of addiction after I joined Overeaters Anonymous (“OA”) in October of 2004. [i]

In 2005, I read C. Brownlee, “Food Fix: Neurobiology highlights similarities between obesity and drug addiction” Science News, Sept. 3, 2005; Vol. 168, No. 10, p. 155  This article had portions relating to locations and functions of the brain associated with addiction. In the summer of 2007, Time Magazine ran an issue featuring addiction on the front cover.  This article had very impressive images purporting to show what cravings looked like in the brain.  There is a simplified version of this article at “Addiction and the Brain” http://www.time.com/time/interactive/0,31813,1640235,00.html  I thought I had copies of both of these articles stored in my computer, but now I cannot find them, only citations to them; however, the point is that they caused me to become curious about imaging the brain to diagnose addiction.

I hoped such imaging could be useful in two areas. 

First, my experience in OA is that most people who are addicts are unable to admit to themselves that they have this problem, that they cannot control their behavior.  Generally, if a person does not believe s/he is addicted, s/he will not seek treatment.  It seemed to me that an actual imaging diagnosis would be helpful in convincing addicts that they do in fact have this disease and therefore need treatment.[ii]

Second, I had a sponsee[iii] who was also a drug addict, who kept getting thrown in jail for her drug use.  When in jail, she relapsed into her food bingeing behavior, because she was taken away from her support group.  The common belief in the twelve step rooms is that addiction is a disease.  A disease cannot be cured by imprisonment, normally.  It seemed to me, as an attorney, that -- if one could prove by brain imaging that she had a mental illness that caused her drug behaviors -- then she could not be considered to have the mens rea[iv] necessary for conviction of a crime and would not be able to be imprisoned,[v] and therefore would not be taken away from her support group. 

Those first articles led me to suppose that if I looked through the literature, I might find more articles that would show how to diagnose addiction based on brain imaging.  I downloaded a large number of articles that had images of brains of drug addicts.  Most of these articles were over my head.  Many of them referred to a team of researchers at Brookhaven Laboratories on Long Island, which caught my attention, because my father used to work there.  I decided to call one researcher whose name I saw several times, Dr. Joanna Fowler.   She was very kind and actually called me back.  She said that the research is not there yet.  There are patterns that tend to be typical of addicts, but they overlap with patterns seen in the general population, and therefore cannot be the basis of a definitive diagnosis.  [vi]

This sort of took the wind out of my sails, so I am just going to try to summarize some articles  I found. 




Main Portion

First I downloaded a huge number of academic articles, most of which I find incomprehensible, unfortunately, because they refer to tiny obscure parts and chemistry of the brain and many of them deal with only a single drug or the effects of the drug after use, as opposed to diagnosing addiction  There are copies of them in this notebook, though.

I did find Nora Volkow, a prominent addiction expert, saying essentially what I thought about the topic of imprisoning drug addicts, on line  at “Addiction is a brain disease. I'd send them to treatment, not prison.“ NORA D. VOLKOW, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, supporting the Vienna Declaration, a statement that calls for drug users to be spared arrest and offered clean needles and methadone instead July 10, 2010  http://www.time.com/time/quotes/0,26174,2006052,00.html I had seen her name on several articles in my searching. I also found an article about Volkow: M. Duenwald, “A Scientists’s Lifetime of Study into the Mysteries of Addiction,” New York Times, 8/19/03 p. F5.    It turns out that she’s written hundreds of articles on addiction and is a great grand-daughter of Leon Trotsky[vii]

In J. Rosen, “The Brain on the Stand,” New York Times 3/11/07 p. E48, I learned that my idea about using brain images to to exonerate or attempt to exonerate criminals or reduce their sentences was not at all new.  The most common such use is in capitol punishment cases to attempt to avoid the death sentence, for instance by identifying a cyst in the arachnoid membrane around the brain or by showing how the adolescent brain is less responsible for crimes committed than an adult brain would be.  In another case, a researcher testified that injury to the amygdala of a perpetrator resulted in him becoming a serial rapist & murderer.  Drug addiction was mentioned in passing as an example of where images might show loss of conscious control.  Avenues of research for using brain imaging in court included monitoring brain reactions of potential jurors to attempt to determine which would be best for a case; and as a more reliable type of lie detectors.

The article described the philosophical and ethical issues that arise from the idea of brain function exonerating the criminal.   There is still the possibility that it will turn out that no one has rational control of any behavior, that reason is a post hoc illusion[viii].  In such a case, the entire criminal law might be eviscerated.

The National Institute for Drug Abuse and Addiction, has some helpful summary articles about addiction e.g. at “Why do People Abuse Drugs?http://www.nida.nih.gov/pubs/teaching/Teaching6/Teaching3.html  and “Drug Use Changes the Brain”http://www.nida.nih.gov/pubs/teaching/Teaching6/Teaching4.html.  These articles include
   a simplified diagram of the brain, which I am including as an appendix, showing regions involved in the craving process -- those regions being the prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate gyrus, the orbitofrontal cortex, the subcallosal cortex, the nucleus accumbens, the ventral pallidum, the hippocampus, and the  amygdala[ix]; and
   a diagrams relating to the role of addiction in the dopamine process at the synapses in the brain.. 
The latter diagrams look very similar to diagrams that we had in class with respect to acetylcholine at synapses, except that dopamine is being studied rather than acetylcholine.  I wish I had had this NIDA material before I tried to read the academic articles, but I wonder about the simplified approach, as the book I looked at, Koob & Moal,The Neurobiology of Addiction Elsevier 2006 (“Koob & Moal”) listed 19 different “Neurocircuitry Theories of Addiction”  in chapter 9 -- each with lovely illustrations, just like our textbook has, but none apparently being considered definitive at least at the time of publication of the book.  Granted this book is more than four years old and the NIDA website could be current, but I suspect that, given what Joanna Fowler said, the NIDA website is oversimplified.

I gather from several of the documents I’ve read, at least one central mechanism in addiction is that initial exposure to the addictive substance creates pleasure by stimulating more dopamine or D2.  After a while, the body develops tolerance and the number of D2 receptors declines, so that the addict has to take more of the substance just to feel normal. 

In that vein, Dunn et al, “Decreased dopamine type 2 receptor availability after bariatric surgery: Preliminary findings,” Brain Research 1350 (2010) 123-130. [x] documented physiological changes in the patients’ bodies that made them want to eat less after bariatric surgery.  In particular, some of the damage to the dopamine system present in obesity seemed to be reversed by the surgery, so that patients enjoyed their food more, felt more satisfied, and therefore ate less.

Given that I gave up on finding imaging based diagnosis of addiction, I looked at how addiction is diagnosed, absent an imaging diagnosis.  Koob & Moal, in their chapter 1, reviewed definitions of drug abuse and dependence from various sources.  One was DSM IV from the American Psychiatric Association in 1994.  Another was ICD-10 from the World Health Organization.   They summarized these with the terms: clustering criterion, tolerance, withdrawal, impaired control, neglect of activities, time spent, continued use despite problems, and compulsive use.  However, there were other views, which included
   “Psychiatric View of Addiction,” including aspects of impulse control and compulsive disorders;
   “Psychodynamic View of Addiction,” which included disordered emotions, disordered self care, disordered self-esteem, and disordered relationships leading to self-medication. 
   Social Psychological/self-regulation view of addiction, with lapses leading to distress leading to further failures
Another interesting thing I learned from this book is that brain imaging is not fast enough to get actual movement of information in the brain, but only indicates regions that are active.[xi]

An article I found particularly interesting was Avena et al, “Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake”, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 32 (2008) 20-39[xii].  This article looked for four main symptoms as evidence of addiction: bingeing, withdrawal, craving, and sensitization.  The authors found that rats who were exposed to excessive sugar intermittently developed these four symptoms, while rats who had continuous exposure to sugar did not.  For me, this tended to confirm my suspicion that dieting can lead to food addiction, but the rats studied were quite different from people in that the ones who binged did not necessarily get fat as they were able to regulate their total calorie intake, which is not at all the case with many people.

In my program, I have learned from Alcoholics Anonymous (Alcoholics Anonymous World Service, Inc. 2001 4th ed.) (aka “Big Book”) to define addiction in terms of an “allergy of the body,” p.xxviii, which is not a histamine allergy, but an abnormal reaction of the body which results in the “phenomenon of cravings” p. xxix upon exposure to the addictive substance; and a “peculiar mental twist” p.33,  which results in the repeated finding of an “insanely trivial excuse” p.37 to pick up the addictive substance despite having resolved not to do so -- though the various definitions reviewed by Koob & Moal all have familiar aspects. 

The Big Book encourages the addict to look for recovery in a “vital spiritual experience.” p. 27  This has has given me a long term interest in the research of Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  He has been studying the brains of experienced Buddhist meditators, particularly Tibetan Buddhist.  I sometimes go to Madison, because I am originally from there and my father was a professor there, so I once went by Professor Davidson’s office, after being unsuccessful in contacting him by e-mail. I left him a long, hand-written letter trying to encourage him to look into using his research for the treatment of addiction, but I never heard back from him.  I also once spoke to a neuroscience researcher at Columbia University and asked him to look into this.  When I spoke with Dr. Fowler this semester, it turned out she had never heard of Professor Davidson’s research, so I sent her a copy of P. B. Reiner, “Meditation on Demand: New research reveals the cell mechanisms underlying a meditative state,” Scientific American Mind (November/December 2009) p. 64-67.  I hope she read it and that finally there will be some connection in the scientific research community between addiction research and meditation research.



Conclusions
I.         I have to make more modest objectives for myself when trying to write a ten page paper for a freshman biology class -- scaling back not being an easy undertaking for me. 
II.       Diagnosis of addiction from brain imaging is likely going to be possible, but not yet. 
III.      Brain imaging diagnosis could help exonerate addicts from addiction related crimes in courts of law.
IV.    Some drug addiction experts agree with me that imprisonment is not the best way to help addicts recover.
V.      Diagnosis of addiction, without images, is ambiguous at best, which is not very helpful to people who  need to know whether they are really addicted in order to motivate themselves to get treatment, or who keep getting thrown in prison for crimes they are unable to stop themselves from committing
VI.    While 12-steppers generally believe that prayer and meditation are useful in addiction treatment, scientific researchers do not seem to be looking into the scientific implications of that.





Bibliography (in order of appearance)

   C. Brownlee, “Food Fix: Neurobiology highlights similarities between obesity and drug addiction” Science News, Sept. 3, 2005; Vol. 168, No. 10, p. 155
   “Addiction and the Brain” Time magazine online http://www.time.com/time/interactive/0,31813,1640235,00.html 
   Vienna Declaration excerpt, July 10, 2010  http://www.time.com/time/quotes/0,26174,2006052,00.html
   M. Duenwald, “A Scientists’s Lifetime of Study into the Mysteries of Addiction,” New York Times, 8/19/03 p. F5
   J. Rosen, “The Brain on the Stand,” New York Times 3/11/07 p. E48
   “Why do People Abuse Drugs?http://www.nida.nih.gov/pubs/teaching/Teaching6/Teaching3.html 
   Dunn et al, “Decreased dopamine type 2 receptor availability after bariatric surgery: Preliminary findings,” Brain Research 1350 (2010) 123-130
   Koob & Moal,The Neurobiology of Addiction Elsevier 2006
   Avena et al, “Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake”, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 32 (2008) 20-39
   Alcoholics Anonymous (Alcoholics Anonymous World Service, Inc. 2001 4th ed.)
   P. B. Reiner, “Meditation on Demand: New research reveals the cell mechanisms underlying a meditative state,” Scientific American Mind (November/December 2009) p. 64-67


Second Bibliography (not well formatted)
This is a list of articles that I glanced at, but did not cite directly above:

W.3.03 Brain imaging studies in human addicts M.R.C. Daglish, D.J. Nutt. Psychopharmacology      Unit,
University of Bristol, UK

Modelling human drug abuse and addiction with dedicated small animal positron emission tomography
Jeffrey W. Dalley a, b, c, *, Tim D. Fryer a, d, Franklin I. Aigbirhio a, d, Laurent Brichard a, d, Hugh K. Richards a, e, Young T. Honga,d, Jean-Claude Barona,d,f, Barry J. Everitta,b, Trevor W. Robbinsa Neuropharmacology 56 (2009) 9–17

Individual differences in prefrontal cortex function and the transition from drug use to drug dependence
Olivier George, George F. Koob Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 35 (2010) 232247


Human brain imaging and substance abuse Anne Lingford-Hughes Current Opinion in Pharmacology 2005, 5:42–46

E.             London et al., “Orbitalfrontal Cortex: Human Drug Abuse: Functional Imaging”, Cerebral Cortext, March 2000, 10:334-342

Decision-making and addiction (part I): impaired activation of somatic states in substance dependent individuals when pondering decisions with negative future consequences Antoine Bechara, Hanna Damasio Neuropsychologia 40 (2002) 16751689

Cocaine addiction: Diffusion tensor imaging study of the inferior frontal and anterior cingulate white matter Maria J. Romeroa,b, Samuel Asensioa, Carmina Palauc, Amparo Sancheza, Francisco J. Romeroa,⁎Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 181 (2010) 57–63  (after the fact)

Hyperinsulinemic obesity and carbohydrate addiction: the missing link is the carbohydrate frequency factor R.F. Heller , a and Rachael F. Hellera  Medical Hypotheses Volume 42, Issue 5, May 1994, Pages 307-312 (abstract only)

Neural mechanisms underlying obesity and drug addiction Richard Trinkoa, Robert M. Searsa, Douglas J. Guarnieria and Ralph J. DiLeone  Physiology & Behavior Volume 91, Issue 5, 15 August 2007, Pages 499-505 (abstract only)

Mitral Valve Prolapse and Addictions  JON CHRISTOPHER STRINGER, MD ANIS OBEID, MD
ELEANOR O’SHEA, RN, CNP November 1, 1985 THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CARDIOLOGY Volume 56 pp. 808-9 (interesting to me, because I have mitral valve prolapse, at least when I don’t have enough water & salt)

Thalamo-cortical dysfunction in cocaine abusers: Implications in attention and perception
Dardo Tomasia,⁎, Rita Z. Goldsteina, Frank Telanga, Thomas Malone  Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 155 (2007) 189–201

Cognitive control of drug craving inhibits brain reward regions in cocaine abusers Nora D. Volkow a,b,⁎, Joanna S. Fowler c, Gene-Jack Wang c, Frank Telang b, Jean Logan c, Millard Jayne b, Yeming Ma b, Kith Pradhan c, Christopher Wong c, James M. Swanson d  NeuroImage 49 (2010) 2536–2543 

The addicted human brain viewed in the light of imaging studies: brain circuits and treatment strategies
Nora D. Volkow a,b,c,, Joanna S. Fowler d, Gene-Jack Wangc Neuropharmacology 47 (2004) 3–13

Volkow & Fowler, “Addiction: A Disease of Compulsion & Drive: Involvement of the orbito-frontal cortex,” Cerebral Cortex, March 2000, 10:318-328

Reward, dopamine and the control of food intake: implications for obesity Nora D. Volkow1, Gene-Jack Wang2 and Ruben D. Baler1 Published by Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2010.11.001 Trends in Cognitive Sciences, January 2011, Vol. 15, No. 1  (review of a book)

Overlapping neuronal circuits in addiction and obesity: evidence of systems pathology Nora D. Volkow1,2,*, Gene-Jack Wang3, Joanna S. Fowler3 and Frank Telang2 Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (2008) 363, 3191–3200

Brain dopamine and obesity Gene-Jack Wang, Nora D Volkow, Jean Logan, Naomi R Pappas, Christopher T Wong, Wei Zhu, Noelwah Netusil, Joanna Fowler THE LANCET • Vol 357 • February 3, 2001

Exposure to appetitive food stimuli markedly activates the human brain Gene-Jack Wang,a,* Nora D. Volkow,a,1 Frank Telang,a Millard Jayne,a Jim Ma,a Manlong Rao,b Wei Zhu,b Christopher T. Wong,a Naomi R. Pappas,a Allan Geliebter,c and Joanna S. Fowlerd NeuroImage 21 (2004) 1790– 1797


[i] OA is a 12 step program that treats overeating as a manifestation of an addiction, and is modeled on the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  At the time I joined, I weighed 190 lbs and I now weigh somewhere around 140, plus or minus 5 lbs, most of the time.
[ii] I had one friend who died in 2009, top weight 800 lbs,, who was still unable to admit that he could not control his eating behavior; something that was perfectly apparent to anyone else.  Alcoholics Anonymous cited below has an ominous portion relating to the issue of convincing addicts that they have this problem.  It says, at p. 30, “The idea that he will some day be able to control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing.  Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death,” something I saw in my friend.
[iii] A person I was helping with the OA program
[iv] mental state.  Criminal law generally requires “mens rea” for conviction of a crime.
[v] When I started this paper, I believed that this particular sponsee was dead or in prison, because I had not heard from her.  Since then I did hear from her and learned that she has been clean of both illegal drugs and bingeing on food for more than a year, so I am moderating my opinion somewhat as to whether imprisonment was effective in helping her; but the point was that my initial opinion was that imaging might be useful in her situation, which helped get me started here.
[vi]  but cfHANLEY CENTER ACQUIRES THE EAST COAST’S FIRST SPECT SCANNER TO TREAT ADDICTION: Groundbreaking Images Demonstrate That Addiction Is A Brain Illness; Helps Predict Patient Relapse (5/25/10) http://hanleycenter.org/pdf/SPECT-Scan-release.pdf  This article purports to do some sort of diagnosis of addiction from images, but it is somewhat vague.  It sounds more like they’re still trying to figure out how to use these images.
[vii] She is not political herself, but spent time in Paris where she met Trotskyites.  I was an exchange student in Paris, myself, and had several friend who were Trotskyites there.
[viii] That is certainly my impression of my own functioning, that I have little or no choice as to what I do and am constantly frustrated by my choices for use of my time.
[ix] i just sent this diagram to a sponsee and asked her to focus her meditations on the areas pictured, to see if that helped her cravings.  I think that kind of visualization helped me.
[x] In OA, we only see bariatric surgery failures, people who gain back the weight they lost through surgery.  I know one person who has had bariatric surgery twice and is gaining the weight back a second time.  I heard a friend of friend story of someone back up at 500 lbs not too long after surgery, because he figured out how to drink a lot of frappes.  I know another person whose 23 year old daughter died 5 days after the lap band surgery leaving a 2 year old daughter.  I always am a bit surprised by the assertions in articles like this that the surgery is typically successful, because that is not my experience in OA, but of course we have a self-selecting sample.
[xi] This is something that I want to find out more about later, because another topic of interest to me is designing biofeedback techniques to stop addictive behavior, which it seems to me might require actually seeing information movement in the brain.
[xii] I sent a copy to a sponsee who wondered how on earth I had found time to locate such an article.