|October 2007 / Issue No. 34
Welcome to the Thorburn Addiction Report. Each month, we bring you several sections, including:
1. Top Story-of-the-Month
2. Review or Public Policy Proposal-of-the-Month
3. Dear Doug in which a recent letter to "Dear Annie" or other "help" column is rewritten, with responses given from the unique perspective that alcohol or other drug addiction best explains the misbehaviors described
4. Alcoholic Myth-of-the-Month
5. Alcoholic Antic-of-the-Month, usually where someone deserves the Darwin Award, but lived.
There is something for everyone!
If your newsletter is distorted (ex: yahoo.com users) click below for an accurate copy. This edition should be posted within 24 hours of mailing.
Quote of the Month: "She shot herself in the leg while high on meth. It wouldn't hurt her to be in a little pain for a while." --A young intern telling Dr. Gregory House why she opted to talk to him rather than attend to her patient, in "House," 4th season premiere episode "Alone," September 25. The writers of "House" get it. The entire 3rd season is recommended as a magnificent primer on the behaviors in which a highly functional iNtuitive Thinker addict might engage, along with why enablers enable. Now available on DVD.
On another note, the Review of the Month is on Douglas R. Andrew's book, Missed Fortune 101. I would appreciate it if you would take a moment to read my www.Amazon.com review of the same book (if we can get it past Amazon's screeners-- the review entitled "Utter Garbage" was up and now seems to have disappeared) and, if you agree, respond to the question, "was this review helpful to you?" with a "yes" vote. When you consider the Amazon.com sales ranking for his book and read the review below, the one at Amazon and, if you really want to indulge, the far more extensive review on this web site (under "book review"), you'll see why the book's negative qualities deserve all the attention we can muster.
By the way, while you're at it, a review of my book, Alcoholism Myths and Realities, would also be appreciated. There have not been any recent reviews and, well, the last one was obviously not written by any of you. Thoughtful recent reviews help the all-important Amazon.com sales ratings. Reviews are also welcome wherever else you make your on-line purchases.
Now let's take a refreshing review of the month's news through the lens of alcoholism.
Click here to purchase Season 3 of "House."
O.J. Simpson arrested--again
Another example of alcoholics pitted against alcoholics in the criminal justice system
"...I'm not going to blame being drunk [for having struck you] that's (sic) no excuse. (But I have decided to stop drinking and will go to AA)" (parentheses in the original). So wrote O.J. Simpson in a 1989 letter of apology to Nicole Brown Simpson.
To understand O.J., one must grasp the concept of alcoholic egomania, which compels the addict to wield power over others. This explains how even successful, talented and charming people can create a mess of so many lives. In particular, it accounts for O.J.'s success on the playing field and as an actor, because success facilitates the use of power and, therefore, alcoholism in its early stages drives overachievement. It makes sense of a double-murder and numerous brushes with the law, because such abuse of others is part and parcel of power-seeking misbehaviors that serve to inflate the alcoholic ego. It also explains an apparent obsession with insuring that the Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman families, to whom Simpson owes millions pursuant to the civil lawsuit over the deaths of their children, never see another dime of "his money."
O.J.'s latest escapade involves an attempt in a hotel room at the Las Vegas Palace Station Hotel & Casino to "recover" some of his sports memorabilia and, ironically, the suit he wore when he was acquitted of the infamous double-murder. He and five other men have been charged with various felony counts including kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery. However, there are two points those outside of this rather exclusive circle may not consider. The first is that you couldn't drum up credible fiction that corresponds with the actual events without understanding alcoholism-rooted egomania. The day his book (If) I Did It went on the bookshelves, Simpson allegedly committed the robbery. Sharlene Martin, the Los Angeles literary agent who arranged the book's publication by the Goldman family, said she found it "so coincidental that [Simpson would be arrested] the day the book is released. It's almost like a child that is throwing a temper tantrum because he's not getting enough attention." Indeed it is incomprehensible until we consider the possibility that it was not a coincidence and that the alleged robbery was an effort to re-inflate his bruised ego. As the great alcoholism expert Harry M. Tiebout, M.D., wrote in his 1954 pamphlet, The Ego Factors in Surrender to Alcoholism, the alcoholic ego emanates from Freud's infant psyche, which assumes its own omnipotence, cannot accept frustrations and does everything in a hurry, without taking into account consequences. This is a perfect fit.
The second point is that the cast of characters surrounding him in the arrest after the Palace Station Casino incident consists solely of other likely alcoholics, which is consistent with the idea that much of what occurs in the criminal justice system pits addict v. addict. Bearing in mind that, as I show in Drunks, Drugs & Debits, at least 80-90% of convicts are alcohol or other-drug addicts, let's look at the actors:
a. Thomas Riccio, who arranged the meeting in Las Vegas between O.J. and Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong, who were attempting to sell some of O.J.’s sports memorabilia. Riccio's stated intention was to help Simpson peacefully reclaim what was supposedly his. However, Riccio's intentions may have been elsewhere: he secretly taped the meeting and immediately sold the tape for an undisclosed sum to TMZ.com. Riccio's troubled past also suggests that other motives may have come into play: a conviction for grand larceny in Florida, possession of stolen goods in Connecticut and escaping prison, receiving stolen property and arson in California. His arson case is a classic in terms of alcoholic self-justification: he explained in a Larry King interview that vandals had severely damaged the property but his insurance company was refusing to pay what he considered a fair settlement unless the problem was worse. So, he made it worse by setting fire to the house. Riccio says the law enforcers "call that arson," but he says it's not. Huh?
b. Alfred Beardsley, 46, the sports memorabilia collector and key alleged victim in the case. He had been convicted of stalking and was arrested after the incident for violating parole in that case by leaving California.
c. Bruce Fromong, 53, the other such victim. He testified on Simpson's behalf in the civil suit brought by the Ronald Goldman family. In a CBS interview, he admitted to traveling to the Cayman Islands to explore setting up offshore accounts to hide Simpson’s memorabilia earnings. Except for the fact that the IRS likes to build a perfect case before bringing charges for tax evasion, in my opinion it's surprising they haven't yet indicted Simpson.
d. Clarence J. Stewart, Jr., 53, a golfing and late-night party buddy of Simpson’s, accused also of armed robbery in the case. A Las Vegas mortgage broker, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate Stewart pleaded guilty to cocaine possession in Louisiana after being accused of trying to sell the drug to an undercover detective in 1987.
e. Michael F. McClinton, 49, another alleged burglary companion from whom police seized two handguns and an assault rifle they say were linked to the Palace Station incident. He pleaded guilty in 1999 to possession of a controlled substance.
f. Charles H. Cashmore, 40, was seen on a casino surveillance tape carrying boxes out of the Palace Station after the event. He got probation in the late '90s after he was charged with felony theft in Utah.
g. Charles B. Ehrlich, 53, also spotted carrying boxes out of the casino. He was ordered to repay more than $500,000 and fined $60,000 after the Securities and Exchange Commission accused him of defrauding investors in Florida while acting as an unregistered broker-dealer in a penny-stock scheme.
h. Walter Alexander, 46, who was also arrested. He golfed and "partied" with Simpson for over a decade and reportedly bragged about his friendship with him.
i. Last but not least, the Juice himself, O.J. Simpson, 60. Since the murder trials, O.J. has been accused of assaulting a photographer, questioned by police regarding domestic disturbances, charged but not convicted in a road-rage incident, and investigated in connection with an Ecstasy ring and the pirating of satellite television signals. He was either acquitted or not charged in all of these incidents. The Goldman family won the rights to his book at the last second before its release by Simpson and a corporation he set up in his children's names, after a federal bankruptcy judge called the scheme, created to insure that none of the profits would accrue to the Goldman family, a "sham." .
Runners-up for top story of the month:
Norman Hsu, until recently a large donor to Democratic Party luminaries, was arrested--again--for missing a court hearing--again--relating to charges of grand theft, to which he pleaded no contest in 1992. Hsu's sordid story is consistent with undiagnosed alcoholism, by far the best explanation for his numerous bizarre exploits.
Hsu, 56, a purported businessman whose rags-to-riches story no one seems able to explain, filed for bankruptcy twice, the first time in 1990. Just two years later, after charming friends and relatives into investing in what turned out to be a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme, he forfeited $2 million in bail when he failed to appear for sentencing. He seems to have moved to Hong Kong for a time before returning to the United States in the late 1990s. Although he never registered to vote, he became politically active in 2003, apparently "encouraging" investors to make campaign contributions because it "was good for business."
Hsu became a campaign "bundler," in which he delivered contributions from many sources. While campaign contribution rules limit donations any one person can make to a political candidate, there is no limit to the amount of contributions an individual can round up from friends and associates. Hsu is accused of circumventing the rules by reimbursing donations made by a number of individuals, many of whom had no obvious means from which to make contributions.
The set-up for Hsu's latest investment scheme, like the first one, is reminiscent of Ponzi's style. Joe Rosenman, who was a principal backer of the 1969 Woodstock music festival, was introduced to Hsu in 2003 and quickly invested $50,000 in exchange for a postdated check for $57,000 for 4 1/2 months later. Successfully cashing these and other checks built up enough trust for Rosenman to reel in friends and family, and in 2005 he set up a company, Source Financing Investors (SFI), that lent Hsu millions. A suit filed on behalf of SFI portrayed Hsu as pretending to lend money supplied by SFI on a short term basis ("factoring") to men's apparel companies that didn’t exist. The suit alleges Hsu, rather than lending the funds to legitimate enterprises, was really using the tens of millions of dollars to fund his "pet political fundraising projects and an extravagant international lifestyle." The deal that finally appears to have gone sour, meaning Hsu couldn’t raise money from other sources to continue the scheme, was one for which SFI provided $1.27 million, purportedly "for the sole purpose of equity financing the production of various apparel items," for which Hsu promised to repay $1.56 million.
Recently, another political fundraiser said she recalled Hsu having arrived "incredibly late" for a luncheon, where he exhibited so many nervous mannerisms she found it hard to follow what he was saying. After his second arrest and disappearance, he was found roaming around without shoes or shirt, appearing disoriented and "freaked out" on an Amtrak train. This is the same man who had been a fugitive since 1992, who seemed so trustworthy that no one dug into his background, who seems to have appeared out of nowhere and who showered politicians with at least hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's the same con artist who managed to organize multimillion dollar financial schemes despite a trail of business failures and two bankruptcies. These behaviors are suggestive of an alcoholic attempting to stave off the late stages of his disease by wielding power over others. While his power-seeking misbehaviors in the early stages required that the charming Hsu sweet talk otherwise sophisticated investors into giving them the shirts off their backs, his latent late-stage alcoholism took form in taking the shirt off his own back. As usual in hypothesizing alcoholism as an explanation and not an excuse for his misbehaviors, we give Norman Hsu, like Charles Ponzi in whom alcoholism is confirmed, the benefit of the doubt.
The case against Hsu, which could cost him 45 years behind bars, according to New York prosecutor U.S. Atty. Michael J. Garcia is "about greed." My guess is it’s really about alcoholism, in which avarice is usually grounded.
"Dancing With the Stars" contestant Vivica A. Fox, 43, who pleaded not guilty to charges of DUI, stopped after passing a California Highway Patrol officer, allegedly driving 80 mph and weaving on the Ventura Freeway in Los Angeles. It was, of course, after she was told she was under arrest that the actress (best known for "Kill Bill" and "Independence Day") began to berate the officers. "Brother," she yelled at one of the two officers, "help a sister. Are you going to let this racist white cop do this?" She reportedly continued to speak in a "condescending manner" as she was placed into the patrol car. An arrest for DUI is an excellent clue to alcoholism. Bigotry (Mel Gibson) and false accusations of same are the icing on the lima bean.
Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada, who got a life sentence after being found guilty of taking $85 million in bribes and kickbacks six years after he was ousted. The 70-year-old former action-film star became a hero to millions of poor and homeless Filipinos, no doubt by engaging in a variation of the tactics used by Hugo Chavez of Venezuela: give to the poor while consuming the country's capital through a failure to invest. Estrada's government began to unravel in 2000 after a self-confessed racketeer and "one-time drinking buddy of Estrada," provincial Gov. Luis Singson, admitted to paying bribes to Estrada. According to the L.A. Times, Estrada, "a notorious playboy, lived the high life during the trial, holding parties at his...luxurious vacation home two hours from Manila..." We must always be on alert that high office beckons to those who have the greatest need to wield power over others--alcoholics.
Character actor Seymour Cassel, 72, who narrowly lost a bid to become president of Hollywood's most powerful union, the Screen Actors Guild. Cassel, whose career was derailed over two decades ago by a stint in federal prison, became a member of the SAG board six years ago. One former board member "found his behavior very troubling and erratic" and says that Cassel was one of the reasons he "chose not to run again." Cassel, the only child of a mother who was a traveling dancer and a father he never knew, is described as a "loose cannon" and has had run-ins with several fellow professionals, including former president of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists John Connolly and former "Little House on the Prairie" star Melissa Gilbert. The cigar-chomping Cassel, who claims to have been sober for 20 years, was sentenced to six months for possessing and intending to distribute cocaine in 1981 and violated the terms of his probation several years later by testing positive for illegal narcotics before purportedly putting his life back together.
Singer Mindy McCready, sentenced to a year in jail after violating probation on a 2004 charge of fraudulently obtaining prescription painkillers. The violation involved a charge of battery and resisting arrest in July 2007. A charge of violating her probation for driving on a suspended license in 2005 is still pending. She gave birth to her son in 2006. Here's to hoping that she'll never forget the part where drinking and using resulted in her being held in jail while awaiting sentencing and crying to the judge, "This has been the longest two months of my life...not being able to hold my son...has been excruciatingly painful." Indeed.
Actor Keifer Sutherland, still on probation for an arrest in 2004 for DUI, charged again with DUI. The star of "24" needs to get sober. Hopefully the court will coerce abstinence with an ankle bracelet and regular and random testing for alcohol and other drugs, rather than put him in the slammer, where he will not be able to entertain us.
Former Salvation Army fundraiser Timothy Peter Janusz, 44, who pleaded guilty to robbing the charitable organization and four elderly donors of more than $300,000 while he was director of planned giving for the charity in Hawaii. Janusz, who has degrees in law and business administration, previously served time for stealing $2.2 million from an elderly Colorado couple. The Salvation Army, one of the functions of which is to help down-and-out addicts get and stay sober, had not known about Janusz's criminal past. They have revamped their procedures to require criminal background checks for those who deal with the public.
Enablers of the Month:
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the L. A. City Council, for settling a harrassment and hazing case involving former L.A. firefighter Tennie Pierce. Pierce sued the city for failing to discipline co-workers when they put dog food in his spaghetti, after calling himself "Big Dog" during a volleyball game immediately before the incident. Pierce had a history of engaging in similar pranks with his fellow firefighters. He took away $1.49 million for his success in mocking the system.
O.J. Simpson's girlfriend, Christine Prody, who stood by Simpson in court, reportedly commenting at one point that O.J. could not have committed the latest alleged crime and that he certainly didn't murder Ron and Nicole. However, after a brief break-up six years ago, Prody sold a story to the National Enquirer in which she claimed that Simpson had confessed to her that he killed Ron and Nicole. Theirs appears to be typical of the relationships between co-addicts. O.J. called the police in 1999 after Prody went on a two-day cocaine binge, while Prody accused O.J. in 2000 of breaking into her home, among other rocks in their 10 years together.
Betsy Gotbaum, the New York City's "public advocate" and likely 2009 mayoral candidate who is Carol Anne Gotbaum's stepmother-in-law, said the Gotbaum family believes Carol Anne "seems to have been manhandled" by Phoenix police during her arrest at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport and are contemplating a lawsuit for wrongful death. According to an eyewitness, Carol Anne became irate and out of control while repeatedly screaming "I'm not a terrorist" after she was not allowed to board an airplane for arriving late. Police of course (it's an airport for God's sake!) intervened and handcuffed her. They left her alone for five or 10 minutes in a holding cell at the airport, where she apparently managed to strangle herself. Betsy Gotbaum said her stepdaughter was "sweet and kind and loving." And she may well have been--when not drinking. Unfortunately, Carol Anne, 45, was on her way to alcohol rehab, took a 90-minute lunch between flights and, well, that's why she ran late. One recovering alcoholic who sent me the story quipped, "Another cured alcoholic." Message to Betsy: recovering alcoholics are far harsher on their brethren than you and I could ever be. Leave it alone and let her rest in peace.
Note to family, friends and fans of the above: the benefit of the doubt is given by assuming alcoholism (they are either idiots and fundamentally rotten, or they are alcoholic/other drug addicts--which would explain the misbehaviors). If alcoholic, there is zero chance that behaviors, in the long run, will improve without sobriety. An essential prerequisite to sobriety is the cessation of enabling, allowing pain and crises to build. Thus far, many have done everything they can to protect the addict from the requisite pain, making these news events possible. The cure for alcoholism, consequential bad behaviors and, ultimately, tragedy, is simple: stop protecting the addict from the logical consequences of misbehaviors and proactively intervene.
Review: "Missed Fortune 101" by Douglas R. Andrew
The mass of evidence in my book,Drunks, Drugs & Debits: How to Recognize Addicts and Avoid Financial Abuse, shows that financial abuse--as all thug-like behavior--is usually rooted in alcohol or other-drug addiction. A book advancing ideas that could easily result in financial catastrophe for those who implement its ideas could easily be written by a person with the disease of alcoholism. This is particularly true for someone who should know better.
I have no way of confirming such alcoholism. However, when errors are consistently made with the singular goal of selling the mark on one of two ideas--that only an idiot wouldn't hock his home to the hilt and invest the proceeds in one investment, universal life insurance--our antennae should go up. When other "mistakes" are made in analysis with the aim of convincing taxpayers they should not only stop investing in retirement plans, but in many cases even withdraw the funds long before the mandatory distribution age and invest the savings or net proceeds in such life insurance, we need to suspect that the underlying motive force could be addiction. Where facts are either omitted or incomplete and a balance of evidence is not provided, there is an underlying tone of dishonesty suggestive of alcoholism. After all, as consistently shown throughout my books, alcohol and other-drug addiction causes egomania, which results in a need to wield power capriciously. Offering financial counsel riddled with errors is one way by which to wield such power.
It is, of course, difficult to diagnose addiction based solely on one's writings. Most clues identified as such in my book, How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics: Using Behavioral Clues to Recognize Addiction in its Early Stages, require actionable misbehaviors. However, several symptoms of addiction can rear their ugly heads in letters, e-mails and books. For example, stories of the grotesque are often thought up by addicts, the evidence for which is found throughout the writings of Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King. Specific clues that can be used to spot possible addiction in letters, e-mails and on the web include the use of profanities, blaming others for one’s problems, pontification, belittling others, lies and the use of twisted logic. The latter four can be found and the latter two abound in Missed Fortune 101.
Examples of pontification include dogmatic and arrogant statements. "There are two ways to handle information: ignore it as false or increase your level of understanding to accommodate new ideas" is both arrogant and belittling. The implication is that we are supposed to accommodate the "new" ideas he is going to present or we are complete idiots. The statement, "I dispelled the myth-conception that you are likely to be in a lower tax bracket when you retire than when employed" is dogmatic. He provides no cites for this or any other assertion in the book.
The idea that "When you pay down your mortgage, you decrease your assets" is, in my opinion, so absurd as to constitute a bald-faced lie. The statement that “non-spouse heirs too often end up with only about 28 percent of the money that was left in their parents' IRAs and 401(k)s" is also, in my opinion, misleading enough to constitute a lie. The only way for this to occur is by leaving a taxable estate with retirement plan assets. Less than one-half of one percent of all estates are taxable, and only a fraction of those include IRAs and other retirement plans. If that's what his definition of "too often" is, I'd like to know how tiny a fraction of any subset "a small fraction" would be.
But it is in the use of twisted logic, often by misleading example, in which Mr. Andrew excels. The grandest of these is a comparison chart of one dollar pre-tax and one dollar taxed-as-earned, in which he shows the dollars doubling in each “period” for 20 such "periods," as if we all can invest this successfully in one lifetime. Turning $1,000 into $1 billion requires 20 doubles, which can be done in a tad under 62 years by those rare individuals earning a consistent 25% per annum. The number of humans who have done this or its equivalent numbers perhaps a few thousand.
More direct uses of twisted logic include his idea that "Qualified [retirement] plans defer taxes, which results in increasing tax liability," which he says is a bad idea. But think about it (and please bear with the math): you invest $6,000 per year into a qualified plan, which grows to over $1 million after 35 years at his assumed return of 7.75%. If you saved at a marginal tax rate of 33.3% (his often-assumed rate), you saved $69,300 in tax along the way. Continuing to assume a 7.75% return, your $1 million will yield $98,000 per year for 20 years before depletion and you will pay $646,800 in tax on the withdrawals assuming the same 33% tax rate. He decries the fact that you’d pay as much in taxes after barely two years of withdrawals as you would have saved in tax over 35 years of contributions. My first thought is this is a nice problem to have. My second, more reasoned approach, is calculating the growth of $6,000 on an after-tax basis, or $4,000 per year, and even assuming that no tax is paid on the 7.75% yearly earnings, results in about $710,000, which will yield only $66,000 per year over 20 years before being depleted. And the problem with deferring taxes is?
Another classic of many in the annals of twisted logic is his repeated assertion that "Home equity has no rate of return when it is trapped in the house." This is outright nonsense. The return is whatever you save in interest or in rents. The return on investing funds in houses that are reasonably valued isn't bad considering it is, except for the potential for declines in their values, risk-free. For example, to the extent you pay principal on a mortgage costing 6.5%, you are investing your savings at exactly that rate. If you own a home worth $180,000 free and clear that would rent for $14,400 per year, assuming that the privilege of ownership costs $6,000 per year in maintenance, replacements, taxes and insurance, your return is 4.7% ($14,400 - $6,000 = $8,400; $8,400/$180,000 = 4.7%). Either rate (6.5% or 4.7%) is infinitely greater than "no" rate of return.
There are numerous other examples of such amazing logic in the full 11-page review on my web site (either http://www.preventragedy.com or www.dougthorburn.com) under "book reviews," an abbreviated version of which can be found at www.Amazon.com. Douglas R. Andrew is, in my opinion, either incompetent, a fundamentally rotten person, or an alcoholic. To suggest that anyone could write such tripe with a sober mind is, in my view, demeaning. Therefore, we should give Mr. Andrew the benefit of the doubt.
At age 61 and in good shape, I am having a terrible time finding decent men to date. After a date or two I learn that many are egotistical, lying, bombastic and pontificating jerks. What happens to men in their 50s and 60s anyway?
I left my marriage of 32 years after giving up trying to fix myself with therapy while my husband drank, as he always did, his fifth of vodka a day, more recently with no worries and no job. What's the story here, anyway?
Giving up on men
. . . .
Some columnists might simply comment that not all men are like those you've dated, but you shouldn’t need a man to be happy.
True, but that's just the start of the story.
You're used to the behaviors, having been married to an alcoholic for 32 years. Your father may have had this disease as well, which helped get you into the first marriage and keep you there for so long. Each of the behaviors described--egotistical, lying, bombastic and pontificating--are consistent with egomania rooted in alcoholism.
Because alcohol and other-drug addicts get divorced more often than non-addicts, plenty of single people in the older age groups have the disease of addiction. You might try screening men before you even go out with them. And don't try to meet any at bars. While not every man at a bar is an alcoholic, the odds are greater--and because they can be so charming and you are so used to the behaviors, you may at first be more attracted to the addict than to the non-addict sitting on a bar stool. Try some other venues and make sure that any private introductions are made by non-addicts.
(Source for story idea: Annie’s Mailbox, September 25, 2007.)
"He must be stupid"
"He skated on two murder charges, and he managed to get out of other charges of much lesser gravity since then. How did he manage to get himself back in trouble again? How stupid do you have to be?"
So asked former prosecutor Marcia Clark, who was the lead O.J. Simpson prosecutor in the criminal trial a dozen years ago, about O.J. and his recent arrest.
The questions assume that O.J. is not a brain-damaged individual, who is capable of learning from mistakes. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that he never kept his 1989 promise to Nicole, in which he said he would never hit her again, stop drinking and attend A.A. meetings. As a practicing alcoholic, O.J. would be incapable of overriding his base survival instincts with civilized responses. Instead, he is inexorably driven to inflate his ego, whenever possible and at any cost--even harming others.
O.J. isn't stupid. He's an alcoholic doing what middle-stage alcoholics do: wield power over others capriciously with the goal of protecting themselves from the effects of ego deflation, which sometimes results in getting into trouble.
Story from "This is True" by Randy Cassingham, with his "tagline:"
"STUPID SERPENT SUCKER: Matt Wilkinson, 23, of Portland, Ore., describes himself as a 'snake collector'. Several weeks ago he found a 20-inch rattlesnake and brought it home. After drinking a six-pack of beer, he was holding the snake when his ex-girlfriend, who was over for a party, saw it. "She said, 'Get that thing out of my face'," Wilkinson said. 'I told her it was a nice snake. Nothing can happen. Watch,' he said, as he stuck the snake into his mouth. But 'it got ahold of my tongue,' he said. As his tongue swelled up from the snake's venom, nearly choking off his airway, his former girlfriend took him to the hospital. It had to be her, he admits, since 'She was the only one sober' enough to drive. What made him think he could get away with such a dangerous stunt? 'You can assume alcohol was involved' in his thinking process, he said. (Seattle Times) ...Yes, we usually do."
A recent article in The Mountain Enterprise of Frazier Park, north of Los Angeles, provides confirming evidence of this. Quoting from the April 2007 issue of the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, Anthony F. Pizon, MD wrote, "The most [common demographic to be bitten] is men intentionally handling snakes, and alcohol is frequently involved (emphasis added)...Not surprisingly, the upper extremity is the most common location for bites, followed by the lower extremity," which supports the idea that people handling snakes comprise the majority of such incidents. Before we understood the fundamentals of alcoholism, we may have figured that snake bites resulting from sticking a snake down one's throat or committing a burglary after skating on murder charges were caused by simple gross stupidity. Recalling that alcoholism causes egomania, which leads to a sense of invincibility often taking form in reckless behaviors (clue # 6 in the chapter, "A Supreme Being Complex," in How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics: Using Behavioral Clues to Recognize Addiction in its Early Stages), we may come to a different conclusion. It turns out that many if not most snake bites are caused by the same thing--the brain disease called alcoholism--responsible for the majority of "accidents" across the board.
(Story and tagline from "This is True," copyright 2007 by Randy Cassingham, used with permission.)
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