Tales of Rock: Man Accidentally Trips On LSD For 9 Hours After Cleaning A Classic Synthesizer

Eliot Curtis accidentally tripped on LSD while fixing a vintage Buchla Model 100. He was tasked to repair a piece of history, but he didn’t expect to begin seeing history and time in front of him as tripped on acid. With his experience, he added another story to the history of the synthesizer, and it’s probably a good idea to making cleaning old equipment with gloves on a standard procedure.

The Buchla Model 100 was invented in the 1960s by Don Buchla of Berkeley. He completely immersed himself in counterculture, and in 1966, his synthesizers were put on a school bus converted to play music. The iconic bus of counterculture, Furthur, was purchased by Ken Kesey, an advocate for using acid. Among their crew was Owsley Stanley, a sound engineer and manufacturer of a potent strain of LSD. While these links can explain how the drug could’ve gotten on the synthesizer, it’s still unclear exactly how the LSD got on this specific one.

Curtis, the Broadcast Operations Manager for KPIX Televsion, was tasked with repairing the vintage analog music modular instrument they found in a closet at Cal State University East Bay’s music department. It was acquired by two music professors who taught in the university during the 1960s. During his repair, Curtis found something stuck under one of the knobs, and it appeared to be a crystal. He sprayed cleaning solvent on the residue to dissolve it a little bit, then he dislodged it from the knob to continue cleaning the area.

45 minutes later, Curtis began to feel strange tingling sensations. He speculated that he was tripping on LSD but thought that’s probably just his imagination. His original inkling, however, was true. His unexpected LSD trip lasted around nine hours.

Authorities later confirmed that residues of LSD were present on the instrument. According to reports, the place the synthesizer was stored made it possible for the LSD to remain potent. The machine was resting in a cool, dark place, so the drug’s potency was preserved so well that it was possible for the residue to be ingested through the skin. With his unexpected trip, Curtis learned a lot more about the 1960s counterculture than he could have ever imagined.

 

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Love is like Cocaine: The Remarkable, Terrifying Neuroscience of Romance – Part 4

Yes, you really are addicted to love.

Addicted to Grief

The emotional responses to a thorny breakup can resemble the responses to the death of a loved one. You feel weighed down by the memories, the longing, the wistful tears, the chest pain and the aching throughout the whole body. Or you are so outraged that you are lucky not to have a semi-automatic weapon. Or you are ready to go on a secret mission aimed at reversing the terrible outcome. It’s no coincidence that breakups can resemble the death of a loved one. When a loved one dies, you grieve. But death is not the only trigger of grief. Grief can occur after any kind of loss: the loss of a job, a limb, a breast, a home, a relationship.

According to the Kübler-Ross model of grief, also known as “The Five Stages of Grief,” first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book,”On Death and Dying,” grief involves five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. After the loss of a loved one, you may first deny that the person is gone, simply refuse to believe it. Once the truth dawns on you, you may feel outraged and attempt to convince the beloved to come back or beg God or the universe’s spirits to reverse their decision. Once you realize things are not going to change, sadness sets in. Over time you may finally accept what happened. These stages need not occur in this order, and each stage may occur several times. The different emotions can also overlap. You may be angry and in a bargaining mode at the same time, or deny what happened and still feel sad. Philosopher Shelley Tremain captured the complexity of grief well when she wrote on her Facebook site, “Today  would have been my father’s eighty-first birthday. Some days, I think time is on my side, that it’s getting easier to live with losing him. Then, it happens. Sometimes, it’s a figure of speech he was fond of, at other times, I am shaving him, or I look in the mirror and see the features of my face that are his, or we are sitting together holding hands. Just sitting there.”

Sometimes it is nearly impossible to let go of grief. When you continue to grieve a loss for a very long time, your condition is called “complicated (or pathological) grief.” The love story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is a heartbreakingly beautiful illustration of complicated grief. Alexandrina Victoria was eighteen when she became Queen of England. Her Uncle, King William IV, had no surviving legitimate children. So Victoria became his heir when he died in 1837. When Prince Albert, her first cousin, visited London in 1839, Victoria immediately fell in love with him. Initially Albert had doubts about the relationship, but he eventually fell in love with her too. The couple got married in February 1840. During the next eighteen years Queen Victoria gave birth to nine children. She loved Albert deeply. Albert was not only a dutiful husband and the father of Victoria’s children, he was also Victoria’s political and diplomatic advisor. For twenty-one years they lived happily together. But the bliss came crashing to a halt when Prince Albert died of typhoid at Windsor on December 14, 1861.

Albert’s death completely destroyed Victoria emotionally. She was overwhelmed by grief and refused to show her face in public for the next three years. People began to question her competence, and many attempted to assassinate her. Victoria finally appeared in public but she refused to wear anything but black and mourned her Prince Albert until her own death in 1901. Victoria’s forty-year-long state of mourning earned her the nickname “The Widow of Windsor.” She never again became the happy and cheerful woman she had been when Albert was alive. In preparation for her own death she asked for two items to be in her coffin: one of Albert’s dressing gowns and a lock of his hair.

Complicated grief is so severe that psychiatrists now consider it for inclusion in the psychiatric manual for diagnosing mental disorders. If you have complicated grief, you have been grieving for six months or more. You furthermore satisfy at least five of the following criteria:

  1. You have obsessive thoughts about aspects of the lost relationship or the person you were with.
  2. You spend a significant amount of time every day or almost every day, thinking about your lost relationship or the person you were with.
  3. You have intense emotional pain, sorrow, pangs, or yearnings related to the lost relationship.
  4. You avoid reminders of the loss, because you know that reminders will cause you pain or make you feel uncomfortable.
  5. You have problems accepting the loss of the relationship.
  6. You have frequent dreams that relate to your lost relationship.
  7. You frequently suffer from deep sadness, depression, or anxiety because of the loss.
  8. You are angry or feel a deep sense of injustice in relation to the lost relationship.
  9. You have difficulties trusting others since the relationship ended.
  10. The loss of the relationship makes it difficult for you to find pleasure in social and routine activities.
  11. Your symptoms make it difficult for you to function optimally on your job, as a parent or in a new relationship.

Complicated grief is emotionally and chemically similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, some psychiatrists argue that there is no need to include complicated grief as a separate psychological condition. They are variations on the very same disorder, they say. Posttraumatic stress disorder can occur as the result of any traumatic event. The most common traumatic events discussed in the literature on posttraumatic stress are events of war, terrorist attacks, brutal physical and sexual assaults, and traffic accidents. It is not commonly noted that unexpected breakups and other traumatic relationship events can also lead to posttraumatic stress.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a condition in which you keep reliving the traumatic event— for example, the breakup—avoiding situations that are similar to the one that led to the trauma. You furthermore have difficulties sleeping, you feel angry, you have difficulties focusing, and you suffer from anxiety. To be a clinical case of posttraumatic stress disorder, the symptoms must last more than a month and lead to difficulties functioning socially, on the job, or in other areas of life. Posttraumatic stress disorder is more likely to occur if the adrenaline surge at the time of the event was very intense.

A study published in the May 2008 issue of Neuroimage suggests that complicated grief sometimes occurs because a normal grieving process turns into an addiction. Led by neuroscientist Mary-Frances O’Connor, the team looked at images of the brains of people who satisfied the criteria for complicated grief and people who weren’t grieving and found significantly more activity in the nucleus accumbens of the people with complicated grief. Activity in the nucleus accumbens is associated with addiction.

It may seem strange that you could actually become addicted to emotional pain and a longing for a person who is no longer with you. The researchers suggest that your yearning and sadness may give you some type of pleasure or satisfaction.

Perhaps the turmoil of emotions does really provide some kind of gratification. Perhaps this emotional overflow is addictive. But it is also possible that the increased activity in the nucleus accumbens signifies increased dopamine levels of the sort found in certain anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The classical case of this disorder is one in which the afflicted is obsessed with thoughts of disease and germs and compulsively washes his or her hands after being near other people or anything that could possibly carry microbes. This disorder is associated with low levels of the mood-enhancing chemical serotonin and fluctuating levels of the motivator chemical dopamine. The low levels of serotonin cause anxiety that involves obsessive, jazzy thinking and the dopamine “reward” motivates the afflicted person to behave in compulsive ways.

As people ruminate obsessively over the events leading up to the loss in complicated grief, the condition may turn out to be similar in this respect to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Low levels of serotonin may trigger obsessive thinking, crippling anxiety, and a visceral yearning for the absent person or the irretrievable relationship. The dopamine response elicited by this kind of obsessive thinking and longing may motivate the grief-stricken person to engage in begging and bargaining and it could also ignite anger fits and a ferocious denial of the loss of the relationship.

 

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Love is like Cocaine: The Remarkable, Terrifying Neuroscience of Romance – Part 2

Yes, you really are addicted to love.

Beliefs and Brain Chemistry

When the systems of neurotransmitters in our brain destabilize during the early phases of a romantic relationship, our moods become unsteady too. And so does our ability to think rationally and make wise decisions. When you become truly infatuated with a person, you might make decisions you wouldn’t dream of making in a sane state of mind. Nothing really matters compared to the object of your infatuation. In extreme cases, we might max out credit cards, leave our families, move across oceans, abdicate a throne, rob banks, or even commit murder for the sake of love.

When there is a substantial imbalance in your brain chemistry, your preferences and reasoning abilities change and so do your beliefs. Research has shown that when you mess with your brain chemistry, you are more likely to have spiritual experiences, see things that are not there, and form beliefs that are not grounded in evidence.

In the 1960s, researchers experimented with the psychedelic drug psylocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, to see if it could induce spiritual experiences in healthy volunteers. The first of these experiments took place on Good Friday in 1962. Harvard researchers administered psilocybin to ten students in the basement of Marsh Chapel at Boston University. The religious setting and the drug together gave rise to religious experiences in all study participants.

(The experiments came to a halt when the US government prohibited them in the early 1970s.)

Psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), and mescaline, affect the dopamine system, the serotonin system, and the adrenergic system. Their effects on the adrenergic systems, which normally cause an increase in the blood concentration of adrenaline, can cause panic attacks and extreme anxiety. The drugs’ effects on the dopamine system are responsible for thoughtless decision making and irrational actions during a “trip,” such as self-mutilation or suicide. The psychedelic effects of the drugs are largely due to their affinity for the 5-HT2A receptor. This receptor is a serotonin receptor. When a psychedelic drug in the serotonin family binds to it, the drug functions just like serotonin.

In normal amounts, the feel-good chemical serotonin yields a sense of relaxation and relief. In large amounts, however, serotonin and serotonin agonists like LSD, DMT (dimethyltryptamine), and the magic mushroom ingredient psilocybin have psychedelic effects. In large amounts, these chemicals trigger the brain’s main excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, which makes parts of the brain go into an over-excited state.

The effects of excessive amounts of serotonin can be so powerful that our critical sense is turned off. A famous, mind-boggling case illustrating this is the Dr. Fox study. In the 1970s an actor was trained to deliver a brilliant talk on mathematical game theory while saying basically nothing of substance. The actor, who bore the name Dr. Myron L. Fox, had taken a scholarly article on game theory and stripped it of its content. The talk was rife with hedging, invented words, contradictory assertions, and references to his alleged earlier articles and books. Surprisingly, his delivery so impressed the audience that nobody noticed that he didn’t really say anything. At the end of the talk the audience, which consisted primarily of experts, bombarded Fox with questions, which he answered proficiently without providing any substantial content. After the lecture, the audience was given the opportunity to evaluate the performance. Everyone was very positive, they thought the lecture had been interesting, and some noted that Dr. Fox had presented the material clearly and precisely and offered lots of illustrative examples. And these folks were academic experts on the topic of mathematical game theory! Speaking of being fooled by what you hear!

This effect of delivery on audience evaluation has come to be known as “The Dr. Fox effect.” The Dr. Fox effect can be explained by noting that a large surge in “feel good” chemicals will turn off our critical sense. Funny, charming, and persuasive people signal to our brains that everything is as it should be. Their smooth behavior boosts our serotonin levels, which turn off our critical sense and increase our feeling of satisfaction—so much so that our initial beliefs are never subjected to scrutiny in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the anterior insula, regions of the brain involved in reflecting critically on new information.

The effects of psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, DMT, and psilocybin, are extreme. Because these drugs cause the brain to enter an over-excited state, they can have seizure-like effects. They furthermore can give rise to hallucinations, illusory color experiences, a feeling of floating , a feeling of one’s identity disintegrating , a feeling of becoming one with the universe, and illusions of time and distance. Thoughts can become uncontrollable, rambling , and obscure, and edged in acid, old memories may blend with new experiences.

While our serotonin levels tend to be low when we fall in love or are beset by a mindless love obsession, there are also states of love that resemble LSD trips. When your passion is unrequited or when you are away from your new love, your serotonin levels drop. But if you unexpectedly bump into him or her or realize that his or her love is not unrequited after all, your brain may release a surge of serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline, making your mind a bit like the LSD mind. In this state, you may be more likely to see things that are not there, have experiences that are mixed with old memories, and act in irrational ways.

Dopamine by itself can cause people to form beliefs that are not grounded in evidence. People whose blood levels of dopamine are higher than normal are more likely to attach meaning to sheer coincidences and find meaningful patterns in arbitrary scrambled images.

Peter Brugger, a neurologist from the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, examined twenty people who claimed to believe in paranormal events and twenty who claimed they didn’t. When the participants were asked to tell which faces were real and which were scrambled among a series of briefly flashed images, people who believed in paranormal events were more likely than skeptical participants to pick out a scrambled face as real. The results were the same when the participants were tested using words instead of faces. After the initial trials, the researchers administered L-dopa, which has the same effects as dopamine, to both groups of participants. After taking this drug, skeptics made many more mistakes when looking for real words or faces than before taking the drug.

The results of the study suggest that dopamine can make you see things that aren’t there and form beliefs without solid evidential backing. These results may explain the tendency of people in love to idealize their partners and attach meaning to every little move he or she makes. When in love, your dopamine levels are high when you think of your lover. This makes your brain a less reliable instrument for forming solid beliefs or making wise decisions.

 

 

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Love is like Cocaine: The Remarkable, Terrifying Neuroscience of Romance – Part 1

Yes, you really are addicted to love.

On popular websites, we read headlines such as “Scientists are finding that love really is a chemical addiction between people.” Love, of course, is not literally a chemical addiction. It’s a drive perhaps, or a feeling or an emotion, but not a chemical addiction or even a chemical state. Nonetheless, romantic love, no doubt, often has a distinct physiological, bodily, and chemical profile. When you fall in love, your body chemicals go haywire. The exciting, scary, almost paranormal and unpredictable elements of love stem, in part, from hyper-stimulation of the limbic brain’s fear center known as the amygdala. It’s a tiny, almond-shaped brain region in the temporal lobe on the side of your head. In terms of evolutionary history, this brain region is old. It developed millions of years before the neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for logical thought and reasoning.

While it has numerous biological functions, the prime role of the amagdala is to process negative emotional stimuli. Significant changes to normal amygdala activation are associated with serious psychological disorders. For example, human schizophrenics have significantly less activation in the amygdala and the memory system (the hippocampus), which is due to a substantial reduction in the size of these areas. People with depression, anxiety, and attachment insecurity, on the other hand, have significantly increased blood flow in the amygdala and memory system.

Neuroscientist Justin Feinstein and his colleagues (2010) studied a woman whose amygdala was destroyed after a rare brain condition. They exposed her to pictures of spiders and snakes, took her on a tour of the world’s scariest haunted house, and had her take notes about her emotional state when she heard a beep from a random beeper that had been attached to her. After three months of investigation, the researchers concluded that the woman could not experience fear. This is very good evidence for the idea that the amygdala is the main center for fear processing. (The chief competing hypothesis is that fear is processed in a brain region that receives its main information from the amygdala.)

Despite its tiny size, the amygdala is amazingly powerful. When its neurons fire intensely, this triggers a physical stress response in your body. Hans Selye, a Canadian endocrinologist, was the first to apply the word “stress” to physical and emotional strain. Before that, “stress” was just an engineering term. Selye, who did the bulk of his research in the 1930s, discovered that the stress hormone cortisol had detrimental health effects in rats.

Together with other adrenal gland hormones, such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), cortisol prepares the body for a “fight or flight” response. Stress hormones are secreted in situations of perceived danger. They can be aggressively rushing through the bloodstream, even when the danger isn’t real. For example, they run rampant in people with a fear of public speaking. They make your heart breakdance, your skeleton turn to gelatin, and your new Mickey Mouse voice make little squeaks the first time you stand in front of a hundred-person audience.

Falling in love then goes like this. Unpredictability, mystery, and sexual attraction make the amygdala go into a hyper-activation mode. Via neurotransmitters, this signals to the adrenal glands that something exciting, scary, mysterious, and unpredictable is going on. This, in turn, results in the adrenal glands pumping a surge of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol into the bloodstream. Via the bloodstream, adrenaline increases heart and breathing rates; noradrenaline produces body heat, making you sweat; and cortisol provides extra energ y for muscles to use.

Though falling in love is associated with anxiety and stress, this state—in combination with the belief that there may be reciprocation—is also at times accompanied by intensely pleasant emotions. These emotions arise from an underlying brain chemistry that resembles those triggered by cocaine use.

Your Brain on Crack

Cocaine is a serotonin/norepinephrine/dopamine reuptake inhibitor, like the most frequently prescribed antidepressants. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors block the transporter that normally carries the “feel good” neurotransmitter serotonin into the neurons. When serotonin is inside the neurons, it does not function as a neurotransmitter. To have an impact on the brain, it must be extracellular, or outside the neurons. When the transporter is blocked, less serotonin is carried back into the cell. So, the extracellular levels of serotonin increase, which stabilizes the brain’s chemistry and alleviates anxiety and depression.

Cocaine increases the brain levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. But unlike the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, doctors normally prescribe for depression (for example, Zoloft, Celexa, or Lexapro), cocaine works instantly. This is because cocaine is a much more potent drug. Whereas standard antidepressants only partially block neurotransporters, cocaine completely blocks them, giving rise to a steep peak in the levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.

Increased levels of norepinephrine make you alert and energetic, suitable levels of serotonin make you feel satiated and self-confident, and increased levels of dopamine make you go into a pleasurable manic state. Dopamine also motivates us to continue to perform certain activities by causing a feeling of profound enjoyment in response to those activities, such as sex.

Because dopamine is associated with pleasure and memory associations between certain actions and pleasure, stimulants and narcotic drugs that increase the brain’s levels of dopamine can cause addiction. The brain remembers the intense pleasure and wants it repeated. This, however, is probably not the whole story behind addiction. Though pleasurable or satisfying activities normally are necessary to initiate an addiction, it may be an overall less efficient pleasure response to ordinary events that causes addiction. It’s the pleasurable or satisfying feeling created by dopamine that entices us to try a drug a second time. But it is likely a dopamine deficiency, a smaller number of dopamine receptors, or an impairment of the function of dopamine that causes addiction. For people with an addictive personality, normal everyday activities, such as working, reading, or watching a movie, don’t lead to sufficiently intense pleasure, so they seek the drug to give them a more profound experience.

Over time, cocaine and other drug use desensitizes the brain to the drug. Desensitization happens as a result of an increased reuptake of the drug or a reduction in or desensitization of receptors. As a result, a larger amount of the drug is required to achieve the same stimulating effect.

New love can have similar effects on the brain as cocaine. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and relationship researcher, conducted a series of fascinating brain imaging studies of the brain chemistry and brain structure underlying new love. She found that serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are crucially involved in the initial stages of romantic love in much the same way as they are in cocaine use.

When you fall in love with someone, norepinephrine fills you with raucous energy, serotonin boosts your self-confidence, and dopamine generates a feeling of pleasure. New love is a kind of love addiction but not yet a kind of pathological love addiction. In falling in love, however, the brain is on crack—a dangerous state of mind.

 

 

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ANGEL WITH A BROKEN WING is now On Sale at Amazon! (kindle & paperback)

PUBLISHED!!!!

The official announcement will come out at 6am today!

But in the meantime…

Sneak Peek!

 

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Tales of Rock: All The Cultural References In The Song ‘American Pie,’ Explained

I love writing this column every Sunday! Enjoy!

Eight minutes long, starting with “A long, long time ago,” Don McLean’s “American Pie” is a slice of cultural history. Since the song’s release, fans have been obsessed with answering one question: what is “American Pie” about?

“That song didn’t just happen,” McLean said of his 1971 hit, which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and named a Song of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America. The classic folk-rock anthem, known for its expansive lyrics, is filled with cultural references related to American life in the 1950s and 1960s.

“I saw the implication of America going bye-bye, since by 1971 we were a horribly divided country with tremendous anger being directed at the government over… Vietnam,” McLean said in Alan Howard’s book The Don McLean Story, hinting at the song’s larger meaning: the disintegration of the American ideal McLean romanticized in his youth.

McLean’s ambiguous writing style lends itself to all types of interpretation, and that is how he wanted it. “People ask me if I left the lyrics open to ambiguity. Of course I did,” he said. “I wanted to make a whole series of complex statements. The lyrics had to do with the state of society at the time.”

McLean officially verified only one reference in the song: that Buddy Holly was a key influence in his life. As McLean put it, “I can say that Buddy was a huge part of my childhood dream. Long before I decided how I would use music or what kind of artist I would be, Buddy was there.”

Fans have pulled apart and analyzed the rest of the “American Pie” lyrics and references through context clues, research, and finding historical parallels to the decades that inspired the creation of McLean’s ballad.

‘Bye, Bye Miss American Pie’

Some fans believe the “American Pie” in the famous first line of McLean’s chorus refers to the name of the plane Buddy Holly perished on, but according to the federal Civil Aeronautics Board incident report about the aircraft’s demise, the plane didn’t have a name.

Jim Fann, creator of the Understanding American Pie website, argues the line has a potential two-fold meaning: a nod to the phrase “as American as apple pie” and an allusion to the Miss America beauty queen. The phrase “evokes a simpler time in American life when these icons held more meaning,” Fann said.

‘Drove My Chevy To The Levee But The Levee Was Dry’

McLean imbues his all-American song with all-American iconography, like the Chevy automobile or truck. The dried levee (which rhymes with Chevy) adds a sense of barrenness to the current landscape in the song.

Also, an advertisement for Chevrolet in 1953 featured a jingle sung by Dinah Shore that includes a reference to a levee.

‘Singin’ This’ll Be The Day’

This line likely refers to Buddy Holly’s song “That’ll Be the Day.”

Holly, along with singers the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, and pilot Roger Peterson, perished in a plane incident February 3, 1959. Their small aircraft went down on a snowy late night after a concert in Clear Lake, IA.

‘A Long, Long Time Ago’

McLean released the song in 1971, but “American Pie” focuses on the 1950s, thus the exposition.

‘But February Made Me Shiver’

This is the first reference in “American Pie” (before the chorus) to Buddy Holly’s demise on February 3, 1959. He hopped on a plane after playing a show in Iowa, and never made it to his next stop: Minnesota. Instead, the plane’s remains were found in an Iowa cornfield, where all the passengers, including the pilot, perished.

It’s believed the plane flew into a blizzard and the inexperienced pilot lost control.

‘With Every Paper I’d Deliver / Bad News On The Doorstep / I Couldn’t Take One More Step’

McLean apparently worked as a newspaper delivery boy. And on February 3, 1959, the “bad news” was Buddy Holly’s demise, on the cover of every paper (the afternoon version) that McLean distributed.

‘When I Read About His Widowed Bride’

Buddy Holly was married to his young wife, Maria Elena Santiago-Holly, for only six months when he perished.

His widowed, pregnant new bride was so traumatized by the news of his demise that she had a miscarriage.

 

‘The Day The Music Died’

Buddy Holly was not the only musician who perished in the plane incident. He was on a 24-day, 24-city tour with the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. The Big Bopper was known for his song “Chantilly Lace,” and Valens for “La Bamba.”

The loss of all three rock musicians in the same incident was seen as a tragedy, and in McLean’s mind, marked the end of a musical era that would never be reclaimed.

‘Did You Write The Book Of Love?’

“The Book of Love” is a famous doo-wop song by The Monotones, a group from Newark, NJ. The song was released in 1958, topping pop and R&B charts. It must have left an impression on young McLean. As the lyrics to the song go:

I wonder, wonder who, mmbadoo-ooh, who
Who wrote the book of love

The track actually made it to Woodstock 1969, where it was covered by Sha Na Na.

‘If The Bible Tells You So?’

“The Bible Tells Me So” was a gospel pop adaptation of the Sunday school song “Jesus Loves Me” written by Dale Evans in 1955 and recorded by a handful of singers the same year.

Versions from Nick Noble and Don Cornell were especially popular, soaring high on Billboard charts.

‘You Both Kicked Off Your Shoes’

This is likely a reference to sock hops, beloved teenage dance parties in the ’40s and ’50s that involved playing popular music in gymnasiums or community halls. Sock hops coincided with the rise of rock ‘n’ roll as the ’50s progressed.

Participants were told to take their shoes off to protect the varnish on dance floors.

‘With A Pink Carnation And A Pickup Truck’

In 1957, Marty Robbins released the heartbreak song “A White Sport Coat (And a Pink Carnation)” about a young man “all dressed up for the dance” and “all alone in romance.”

‘And Moss Grows Fat On A Rolling Stone’

A year after Bob Dylan released “Like a Rolling Stone” in 1965, he was involved in a strange motorcycle incident that made him lie low for a year or two at the height of his career. He’d just transformed himself from a folk singer to an electric guitar-playing rock musician, which caused a lot of controversy within the American music scene.

Some fans believe McLean’s intention with this line in “American Pie” is to highlight the evolution of music between the ’50s and early ’70s while also pushing the action of the song into the ’60s.

‘When The Jester Sang For The King And Queen’

According to one fan theory, Bob Dylan is the jester, Pete Seeger is the king, and Joan Baez is the queen. All three were influential and politically motivated folk singers in early ’60s, and it’s not a stretch to suggest their music influenced McLean’s own folksy sound. Dylan, Seeger, and Baez were all on stage together at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963, where they sang Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” in unison.

Another theory is that the king and queen refer to President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jackie Kennedy.

‘In A Coat He Borrowed From James Dean’

This line could be another reference to Bob Dylan.

On the cover of his 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Dylan wears a red windbreaker similar to the one worn by James Dean in the film Rebel Without a Cause.

‘And While The King Was Looking Down’

If the king is Pete Seeger, the godfather of folk, this could be a reference to him looking down upon the way Bob Dylan experimented with music in the 1960s.

‘The Jester Stole His Thorny Crown’

Bob Dylan the jester became the king, taking the crown when he won hearts with his brand of folksy rock ‘n’ roll.

Who did he take the crown from? Some people believe it’s Elvis, the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Others stick with Pete Seeger.

‘The Courtroom Was Adjourned / No Verdict Was Returned’

Returning to the JFK theory, after he was slain in 1963 , the man accused of the slaying, Lee Harvey Oswald, was himself slain.

Therefore, “no verdict was returned” because no trial actually occurred.

‘And While Lennon Read A Book On Marx’

While some fans think McLean is singing about Communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, the more popular theory is that he’s singing about the Beatles becoming more political with their music as tensions soared in the ’60s. The Beatles, adored by American youth, were deemed inappropriate by older generations who thought their music was too rowdy.

As their sound evolved, the Beatles released songs like “Revolution” in 1968, whose message is in line with the Communist philosophies of German writer Karl Marx, known for The Communist Manifesto.

’The Quartet Practiced In The Park’

The quartet is likely the Beatles: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

‘And We Sang Dirges In The Dark’

A dirge is a funereal song of mourning, and there were plenty of lives to mourn in the ’60s: President John F. KennedyMartin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy among them.

The line could also refer to the Vietnam conflict; many drafted service members sent overseas never made it back home.

‘Helter Skelter In A Summer Swelter’

“Helter Skelter” is a song the Beatles released in 1968, a year of political and social turmoil in the United States.

The next August, “in a summer swelter,” followers of Charles Manson brutally slayed five people, including the actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time.

‘The Birds Flew Off From A Fallout Shelter’

Some fans speculate this is an allusion to the ’60s rock band The Byrds. A fallout shelter is a euphemism for a treatment center, which one of the band members checked into after being caught with illicit substances.

‘Eight Miles High And Falling Fast’

Eight Miles High is the title of a 1966 album by The Byrds, considered one of the first real trippy records.

The groundbreaking sound of the album was influenced by plenty of experimentation with illicit substances, particularly acid.

‘It Landed Foul On The Grass’

Grass. Herb. Dope. Pot. Doobie. All of these slang words refer to one thing, a certain illicit (and some consider foul-smelling) substance favored in the ’60s counterculture on display in “American Pie”: weed.

‘With The Jester On The Sidelines In A Cast’

Fans believe this is another homage to Bob Dylan’s 1966 motorcycle incident.

‘While Sergeants Played A Marching Tune’

The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, and this is likely an allusion to that significant album.

With this release, the Beatles amped up their innovative approach to rock music, including sitars and sound collages.

‘ ‘Cause The Players Tried To Take The Field / The Marching Band Refused To Yield’

Fans see this as a remark about the protest movement that seemed to peak in the late ’60s and early ’70s, from Chicago to Kent State.

Young people demonstrated en masse against prejudice, military conflicts, and economic injustice.

‘Oh, And There We Were, All In One Place’

McLean could be making a statement about the unifying power of the Woodstock 1969 festival in Bethel, NY, which brought together more than 400,000 people in one weekend.

Many of the most well-known rock musicians of the time performed, including Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. The festival is viewed as the height of American hippie culture.

‘Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick / Jack Flash Sat On A Candlestick’

This line could be a mash-up between the “Jack Be Nimble” nursery rhyme and the 1969 song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by the Rolling Stones, released on their album Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be.

Fans think this is an insult to the Stones for not coming up with a good comeback to the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. According to their theory, “Jack” is Mick Jagger.

‘Cause Fire Is The Devil’s Only Friend’

According to one theory, the “Devil” could be Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, representing rebellion and estrangement, and the pull away from a more innocent time perceived earlier in music and the world.

‘No Angel Born In Hell / Could Break That Satan’s Spell’

“No angel born in Hell” could refer to the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, which instigated a riot at the 1969 Altamont Free Concert in California.

The Hells Angels agreed to provide security during a performance by the Rolling Stones, and an 18-year-old black man perished at the hands of a member of the motorcycle group. The events of the day are considered by some to be the day the “free love” movement ended.

‘I Met A Girl Who Sang The Blues’

The “girl” could be Janis Joplin, the rock singer with a singular bluesy voice who perished from taking illicit substances in 1970.

Her hits “Piece of My Heart” and “Me and Bobby McGee” were considered anthems for the hippie generation.

‘I Went Down To The Sacred Store / Where I’d Heard The Music Years Before / But The Man There Said The Music Wouldn’t Play’

McLean is possibly bemoaning the loss of interest in ’50s music at record stores.

When he released the song in 1971, perhaps he was suggesting no one cared about music from this bygone era anymore.

‘And In The Streets The Children Screamed’

This line could be an allusion to all the turmoil that occurred in the years leading up to the song’s creation.

Thousands of young people across the country were involved in various protest movements, which led to confrontations with law enforcement or other groups.

‘And The Three Men I Admire Most / The Father, Son, And The Holy Ghost’

McLean was apparently raised Catholic, so bringing religion in at the end of the song makes sense.

The sacred holy trinity, however, catches “the last train for the coast,” likely a sign McLean believes America lost its moral foundation in 1959.

 

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Lockdown Might Lead to a Drop in STI Rates, But It Could Also Spark an Increase in STI Stigma

Fear of coronavirus infection could spark renewed fear of sexually transmitted infections

Bad news: Pandemic lockdowns are putting hookups on hold all over the world. Better news: Pressing pause on hookups might also halt the spread of sexually transmitted infections and give more people a chance to get tested before potentially passing on an infection to a new partner. Worse news: Global panic surrounding the viral coronavirus pandemic could prove as contagious as the virus itself, possibly sparking a regressive resurgence of STI shame and stigma.

Going back to the silver lining for a moment, doctors in the U.K. posit that lockdown conditions could greatly improve the nation’s sexual health, with Dr. John McSorley calling this period of relative sexlessness a “game changer” and urging people to get tested before lockdowns end and everyone returns to their regularly scheduled sleeping around.

“If we could test and treat everybody for their infections now, that would be a game-changer going forward as people slowly move towards normality,” McSorley, a sexual health doctor and president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Justin Harbottle, of sexual health testing organization SH:24, echoed McSorley, calling this period of pandemic-imposed abstinence a “once-in-a-lifetime event” for the future of sexual health. “Even at the start of the HIV epidemic, I don’t think you had such a clean-cut period where collectively – as a population – people stopped having sex with new partners,” said Harbottle.

Unfortunately, one thing we definitely did have during the HIV epidemic was plenty of shame, stigma and moral panic surrounding sex, sexually transmitted infections, and the people who contracted (or were presumed likely to contract) them. And as STI anti-stigma activists have pointed out, our current panic surrounding the coronavirus pandemic could cause those attitudes to crop up again.

ella dawson

@brosandprose

Now that we’re all talking about how important it is to get rapid COVID-19 testing to slow down the pandemic…

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ |
| When were |
| you last |
| tested for |
| STIs? |
| _______|
(\__/) ||
(•ㅅ•) ||
/ づ

ella dawson

@brosandprose

I’m worried that the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is going to lead to even more ignorant, knee-jerk fear of common viruses like herpes and HPV, and a strengthening of STI stigma in general. People are scared of infection right now and that attitude will ripple.

“I’m worried that the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is going to lead to even more ignorant, knee-jerk fear of common viruses like herpes and HPV, and a strengthening of STI stigma in general,” writer Ella Dawson wrote in a tweet last month. “People are scared of infection right now and that attitude will ripple.”

More recently, Dawson has noted other similarities between flawed responses to the pandemic and misconceptions surrounding sexual health. “The people who are pushing to re-open society because they think the COVID-19 pandemic is exaggerated are the same people who think I’m an immoral disease vector because I have herpes,” Dawson wrote in a Twitter thread Monday. “Some people think they’re not at risk of COVID-19 because they’re too good for it, they’re the exception. They ascribe morality and inherent worth to whether or not they’re at risk of contracting a virus,” she continued, comparing the coronavirus response to an all too common line of thought that casts STIs as a kind of punishment for sexual wrongdoing or inherent moral failure.

“‘I don’t need to wear a mask, I’m not at risk of COVID-19’ is the new ‘I don’t need to wear a condom, the girls I have sex with aren’t dirty sluts,’” Dawson concluded.

ella dawson

@brosandprose

Replying to @brosandprose

It makes sense, honestly. Some people think they’re not at risk of COVID-19 because they’re too good for it, they’re the exception. They ascribe morality and inherent worth to whether or not they’re at risk of contracting a virus.

Guess what, Karen! Viruses don’t discriminate.

ella dawson

@brosandprose

“I don’t need to wear a mask, I’m not at risk of COVID-19” is the new “I don’t need to wear a condom, the girls I have sex with aren’t dirty sluts.”

None of this is to say that the doctors urging people to take this time to prioritize their sexual health are promoting stigma. People should absolutely get tested before hooking up with any new partners post-lockdown (though that’s always the case, lockdown or no lockdown). But as discussions of STIs inevitably get pulled into the coronavirus conversation, it’s important to avoid transposing fears about coronavirus onto other infections, especially those with a history of stigma.

Illness of any kind is never a punishment for wrongdoing, nor is it a reflection of someone’s worth or standing, moral or otherwise.

 

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10 Agonizing Truths Depressed People Never Talk About

There’s no reasoning with it. So don’t even try.

Here’s a great post from one of my readers. Thought it was worth sharing.

When I was 16, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. After the diagnosis, my uncle slapped me on the back and said, “Welcome to the family kid,” while my family all compared drugs around the kitchen table. At that time, I didn’t know how to deal with depression, but I’m extremely lucky that my family not only accepted that depression is a real, serious issue, but they understood it.

They were mindful to make sure that my depression wasn’t used as a crutch or an excuse, but thankfully, I never once heard the unhelpful, “Just suck it up and deal with it,” and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

What causes depression? It can be a number of factors, but depression is different for everyone. And over the years I’ve noticed a few things that don’t seem to waver. They hold fast in their level of suckiness and they seem to apply to most everyone I’ve talked to that’s dealt with depression.

1. You don’t choose to be depressed.

This isn’t a choice I’m making. My cat dying or my car being totaled aren’t the reason I’m depressed. Those things are tipping points, they push me over an edge I was already standing at.

Depression is a chemical imbalance. Yes, there are things I can do and medications I can take, but at the end of the day this isn’t something I’d choose for anyone and certainly not myself.

2. Your brain is the enemy.

For me, having depression is like walking around with a mean, petty, awful little friend in my brain all the time. It’s constantly telling me how awful I am, how I’m not good enough and how nobody likes me.

And just like the negative comments on a blog post, those thoughts stick. Trying to convince yourself that your brain is wrong is no easy feat.

3. Telling you to “suck it up” will never work.

Don’t tell me to “suck it up.” Don’t tell me to watch a sunset or exercise or appreciate the joy that is being alive. That’s about as effective as me telling you to go walk it off after you’ve broken your arm. It isn’t going to fix anything.

Depression isn’t logical. You can’t reason with it or apply coconut oil and suddenly be better.

4. Nobody can fix it.

And that sucks. There are medications and there are things that I can do that will help mitigate my depression, but they won’t fix it. There’s nothing anyone can say or do that it is going to fix my brain. I wish more than anything that there was a magic cure-all that would tip the scales back to center for my brain, but there isn’t. What works for one person might not work for another.

What works for you might suddenly stop working. That’s the thing about depression: it’s an ever-evolving disease. Once you think you’ve got things under control, it’ll contort and poke at a tender spot you didn’t even know existed.

5. It’s going to suck for the person dealing with the depressed person, too.

I’ve been on the other end of things, and not being able to help someone I love when they’re in the middle of a depressive episode is awful. Just know that there’s nothing anyone can say that a depressed person will believe or that will pull them back to surface where reason lies. This reality is very tough.

6. Relying on a pill is awful. 

I came to terms a long time ago that every night I’m going to have to take a little white pill. Having to rely on medication for anything is hard but relying on it to make you feel normal, whatever “normal” is for you, is extra difficult.

7. Finding the right meds might make you feel like a science experiment.

Finding the right medication, or in some cases medications that work, is daunting. I’ve had to switch meds a handful of times and every time left me feeling like a husk of my former self.

Even with proper weaning, coming off some medication is like detoxing. Outside of the physical effects, there’s just something about the whole process that makes me feel like a high school science experiment.

8. Depression makes you selfish.

This was one of the first things I noticed after I was diagnosed. I spend so much time in my own head thinking that I rarely have the ability to look out and think about others. It’s also one of the things I hate most about my depression.

I have a damn good group of family and friends, and not being the friend they deserve is hard. But learning how to deal with depression means coming to terms with this.

9. You take away the things you love when you’re depressed.

Everyone has signs when their depression hits. For me, I start taking away the things I love. I stop writing. I stop picking up my camera. Depending on how deep it is, I’ll stop feeding myself or bathing as often as society would like me to.

There’s no point in my mind. Everything sucks and it’s going to continue to suck whether I write about it or take a picture of my cat.

10. Sometimes not being here sounds like a great option.

The reality is, most people who’ve dealt with depression, especially long-term, may consider suicide. Some will form a plan and think it over for months. Some will decide on the spot.

For me, there was never any plan. I never wanted to die, per se, I just wanted to not be here. I just wanted to stop constantly feeling like I was feeling.

Because the thing about depression is, you can’t escape it. You can’t set it down in the morning, go to work, and pick it back up when you get it home. It’s everywhere. It’s at your best friend’s wedding. It’s at your desk at work. It’s at the gas station when you’re pumping gas. You take that little terrorist everywhere with you and sometimes you just need a break.

Note to our readers: If you ever need to talk to someone about depression, please call 1-800-273-8255. Someone will always be on the line. You are loved.

 

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Woman Arrested & Charged After Telling 911 Her ‘P*ssy’ Was ‘On Fire’

This is so crazy I had to post it!

A woman from Ohio was arrested and charged after she called 911 to say the emergency she was experiencing, was that her “p*ssy was on fire.”

Katrina Morgan, 50, placed the called to 911 late Saturday evening to report that her “p*ssy was on fire” and that she needed someone from the fire department to “put it out with their hose,” according to the arrest report.

Morgan then dropped the call, and when a police dispatcher called her back, she repeated the claim and asked for responders to “come put her p*ssy out because it is on fire.”

It should come as no surprise that reports say that Morgan also “appeared highly intoxicated” when cops arrived at her friend’s home in Lake Erie, that she smelled of booze and was “having trouble walking, was slurring her speech,” police noted.

Morgan was handcuffed and booked into the Ottawa County jail on multiple counts, including disrupting public service, a felony, and making false alarms and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.

And Ye SHALL BE henceforth known AS FIRE CROTCH ! - Gingers do ...

 

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No, There Is No Such Thing as ADHD

There is no brain condition that generates some disease called ADHD, and none has ever been demonstrated. And no child should be given amphetamines.

No, there is no such thing as ADHD.

 

Somewhere along the line, we have lost the understanding that kids come in all shapes and sizes. Some kids are active, some are quiet; some kids are dreamers, others are daring; some kids are dramatic, others are observers; some impulsive, others reserved; some leaders, others followers; some athletic, others thinkers.

Where did we ever get the notion that kids should all be one way?

Parents these days are subject to pediatric “experts” who proclaim that kids should follow some prescribed rates of physical, mental, and emotional growth. If they deviate from the “mean,” then there is a problem. Parents are intimidated and worry that there is something wrong with their babies.

Every child matures in his own way, in his own time. Every child is different. We need to throw away all the bell curves of “normal” — you know, developmental milestones. Parents worry if Johnny is a happy breastfeeding pudge-ball, heavier than his appointed weight; or crawls differently; or isn’t walking yet; or isn’t talking at his appointed hour; or still isn’t toilet trained (very few make it to adulthood without getting toilet trained).

There are experts at every turn, such as those who proclaim knowledge that a pudgy baby will create fat cells that will create weight problems for life, which is nonsense. Parents, leave these poor kids alone and enjoy them. Raise them well — you know, with boundaries and love.

Apparently, differences mean that we should make children conform to the idea that there is some ‘normal’ that all kids should be. If they’re active, give them amphetamines; if they’re moody, give them Prozac; for fears, give them benzodiazepines; and while we’re at it, let’s give them antipsychotics, or Lithium and other mood-stabilizing drugs.

What in the world are we doing?

My focus is on the interplay of temperament and trauma to demonstrate how the fiction of ADHD took hold in the first place. Dr. Peter Breggin and others have addressed the issue of giving amphetamines to children with compelling clarity. (see a “Towards a Ban on Psychiatrically Diagnosing and Drugging Children”).

Every single person is absolutely unique. No two of us are alike. Even identical twins are not the same. We all have our unique constellation of temperament. I want to emphasize that by temperament, we are talking about inborn temperamental styles, not pathology. (See “The Nature-Nurture Question—The role of ‘Nature’ comes from our genetic temperament.“)

Our temperament digests our parental nurture all the way through our development. Together, they create the varied and wonderful scope of human personality. Our cortical imagination, oriented by our temperament, writes a specific and nuanced character world in each of us, which is as unique as our fingerprints.

And so it is with nature and nurture for all of us. Our temperaments differ; our salient environments differ; our parents, our culture, and the happenstances of our lives differ. The specific qualities of our parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, teachers, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, and the moment-to-moment experience of our lives are all unpredictably alive. Our adult character is created out of all of these forces and is absolutely unique. No two snowflakes are alike, but we are all snowflakes. And we all form the same way.

To understand ADHD, we need to look at differences in temperament, as well as the degree of responsiveness, abuse, and deprivation that is digested into our plays of consciousness.

A typical child, often a boy, may have an active temperament. One can readily tell whether a child is active or passive. Active children sit and walk and climb early in childhood. They take off at the beach. The active child is naturally physical, physically expressive, and action-oriented. He is oriented to active, muscular, good aggression. In the context of good-enough loving, the active child, identifying with his active strength, operates as a take-charge doer.

(The passive child is not oriented by muscular, good aggression. In basic orientation, he is more absorbed elsewhere. He tends to be off daydreaming. The passive child depends more on someone else to provide shelter from the storm. He identifies as the recipient of action rather than as a doer.)

The next temperamental attribute is that our active child tends to be an externalizer, rather than an internalizer. What does this mean? The orientation of an externalizer is to look outward. With good enough love, he feels secure with love from others. In the context of deprivation and abuse, he is predisposed and oriented to feel attacked or criticized by others. He locates the source of attack, hatred, or criticism as coming from a person outside of him. For example, from a legacy of shaming abuse, an externalizer experiences being actively shamed by a person outside of him and will react to it. His orientation is as a blamer. As such, he would be inclined to blame and fight with others.

(An internalizer will carry a source of loving internally. In the absence of good-enough loving, instead of blaming and fighting, he will attack himself. It would manifest as self-hate: “I’m bad; I’m inadequate, I’m stupid, I’m ugly,” etc. In the context of shaming abuse, an internalizer, would feel ashamed.)

Our active child would tend to be more narcissistically inclined than echoistically oriented. His orientation is to operate from his sense of self, as opposed to an echoist who operates from the point of view of other people. In the context of deprivation and abuse, his “me” orientation focuses on himself as the injured party and isn’t as centered on thinking of others. He is furious and outraged at slights and injuries directed at him from others. He leads with an exposed nerve and indignantly feels, How dare you treat me this way?

And finally, this child tends to more of a participant and less of an observer. A participant is naturally oriented to be immersed in and emotionally involved in activities. He easily and naturally engages through feeling.

(The natural orientation of an observer, on the other hand, is to process at a distance, rather than be immersed in the feeling relatedness of the scenario of the play. An observer tends toward thinking, caution, circumspection, reticence, and figuring things out.)

So what do we have? An active, externalizing, narcissistic, and participatory child. Remember, there are no pejoratives associated with these qualities. This type of constellation generates the attributes of leaders and athletes. In many cultures, these children are valued rather than devalued. They grow up to be fun energetic people. They may show behaviors that get them called ADHD, but they are normal kids. They are easily bored, need to run around a lot, and may have short attention spans, except when they are interested. These actually are stereotypical boys. They can be fidgety and impulsive and may concentrate poorly, but there is nothing wrong with them.

In the context of deprivation and abuse, they may be prone to spin out of control. They may act out more and blame and fight. This may be a signal that something is problematic in the family and needs to be attended to. Many families don’t like to hear this, but the attention deficit may mean that the parents are giving insufficient loving attention to the child.

What is called ADHD, in general, is merely one part of the constellation of temperaments that make up the human condition. Even within this group, temperaments will vary. No two children are the same. And the specifics of deprivation and abuse vary with every child. Not only that, but there are also many other issues that can be very misleading. I give one example in “How Do Our Children Get Misdiagnosed With So-Called ADHD?

Certainly, symptoms present themselves, but they need to be correctly understood. All of these children need to be properly evaluated to understand what they need. It might be help for the family. It might be a more open classroom. It might be to help teachers be better teachers. But one thing is for sure:

There is no brain condition that generates some disease called ADHD, and none has ever been demonstrated. And no child should be given amphetamines.

 

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