Premier Edition / August 2004 / Issue No. 1

Welcome to the first issue of the Thorburn Report. Each month, you can look forward to several sections, including:

1. Top Story of the month
2. Movie Review 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 from Randy Cassingham’s on-line newsletter, This is True

There will be something for everyone!

Accuser’s sex life will be fair game at Bryant’s assault trial

ImageTop Story: Stating that the credibility of the accuser was a factor in the Kobe Bryant case, the judge ruled July 23 that her sexual escapades (my term) during the week preceding the alleged rape can be used against her. The likelihood of multiple sex partners immediately before (and, apparently, after) the event is an excellent clue to addiction because wielding such sexual power can be very ego-inflating. A false accusation would fit right in with the profile.

False accusations are common to alcohol and other drug addicts and decidedly uncommon among non-addicts. In a classic case, Charles Whitman, District Attorney of New York, framed police lieutenant Charles Becker for murder in the early 1900s. As Becker’s wife pleaded for his life, Whitman, who had since become Governor of New York, was so drunk he had to be held up by his assistants. Becker was executed the next day.

In another tragic case, Judy Johnson made the first accusation in the early 1980s against the Buckey family in what became the McMartin Pre-School child abuse trial in Manhattan Beach, California. Years later, the Buckey’s were exonerated and Johnson, who had since committed suicide, was outed as a full-blown addict. Yet at one point, an incredible 98% of Los Angeles County residents believed accusations of abuse that almost everyone today views as patently ridiculous. As I noted in my book How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics, lies made by practicing addicts are often more believable than truths told by non-addicts, even in a court of law.

The fact that alcoholics find ego-gratification in making false accusations is reason enough for backgrounds and reputations of accusers to be fair game in every "he said/she said" trial. While the judge ruled for Kobe on narrow circumstances having to do with bruises found on her that could have been inflicted by a person other than Kobe, such rulings should be standard fare.

The Count of Monte Cristo

ImageMovie Review: This month’s movie fits right in with the Kobe trial: the 2001 version of “The Count of Monte Cristo,” with magnificent performances by Guy Pierce as Fernand Mandego and Jim Caviezel (Christ in “The Passion of the Christ”) playing Edmund Dantes, who later becomes the Count of Monte Cristo.

The story is billed as one of revenge. Yet the more important aspect is alcoholic egomania, taking form in betrayal and false accusations, embedded in a great movie.

As with Al Pacino’s portrayal of Lt. Col. Frank Slade in “Scent of a Woman,” most viewers didn’t pay attention to or remember the alcoholism. Yet, when you rent the movie this weekend, it will seem obvious. From the beginning, when he says “don’t expect me to do this sober,” to an attempt to steal his best friend’s girlfriend, to the Count’s party, Mandego is seen drinking or bringing the bottle in ways suggestive of the idea that alcohol is a very important part of his life. While Mandego is portrayed as obviously inebriated only once, real-life alcoholic Henri Paul, Princess Diana’s driver, didn’t look drunk in the hotel video immediately prior to the tragedy, despite a blood alcohol level reported at .18 per cent (the equivalent of 12 shots of 80-proof liquor in 4 hours for a 200-pound person). Yet bodyguard Trevor-Rees Jones, who survived the crash, didn’t even know Paul had been drinking. Early- to middle-stage alcoholics generally have extraordinarily high tolerance.

Behavioral symptoms of alcoholism include Dantes telling Mandego, “Being your friend is always an adventure,” as they drink what appears to be wine (Dantes drinking non-alcoholically). Taking inordinate risks in an effort to inflate the alcoholic ego can lead to great adventure. When Mandego tries to steal away Dantes’ long-time girlfriend, Mercedes, she reminds him of previous episodes and comments made by Mandego that appeared to have been rooted in envy. The alcoholic must always win, regardless of cost, which can include behaviors that make it appear as though he covets the loves and lives of others. Near the end of the story, Mandego admits to serial adultery, common in the lives of alcoholics. His compulsive gambling, for which there is a 50% probability of alcoholism, becomes obviously destructive. Falsely accusing his wife of being a whore, he leaves home with bottle in hand. While “The Count of Monte Cristo” appears to portray an extreme version of alcoholic behavior, recovering alcoholics with ten or more years’ sobriety admit to having been capable of “anything” while using.

After “Scent of a Woman,” this may be the greatest portrayal of alcoholism ever in a movie, providing a terrific example of the profoundly destructive effects of the disease, which can reverberate for decades. And, it combines adventure with a magnificent love story. Well worth your time.

Dear Doug: Workplace Bullies

Dear Doug,

I was bullied by two co-workers for several years in my office, which serves law enforcement. The co-workers threw objects at me, slammed doors in my face, “accidentally” ran into me on many occasions and stole personal items. Management refused to take the necessary action to end the abuse. Deciding enough was enough, I took early retirement. I can’t imagine why anyone would engage is such juvenile behavior. I’ve had a difficult time recovering emotionally. While I don’t think they should permanently get away with abusing others, I don’t look forward to waging a legal battle. What should I do?


. . . . . .

Dear Abused,

Other columnists might only ask if these co-workers think they are in junior high school. Instead, I would suggest that their emotional growth was stunted due to the likelihood of having triggered alcohol and other drug addiction in adolescence. They act like adolescents because emotionally they are, regardless of chronological age. In addition, due to distortions of perception and memory, they think they do no wrong and have developed an “I am better than you” attitude. Then of course they can abuse you—and must, in an effort to inflate the inordinately large sense of self-importance that is part and parcel of alcoholism.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, both alcoholics, are also reported to have thrown things and slammed doors. Damaged walls and doors are often found in homes rented or even owned by alcoholics. Over 80% of incidents involving violence, theft and other criminal behaviors are committed by alcohol or other drug addicts. Imagine the behaviors of your former co-workers behind closed doors if in a position where they can get away with it, without fear of consequences.

While the co-workers need consequences, if a lawsuit isn’t worth your mental state, don’t do it. On the other hand, if understanding the alcoholic need to wield power over others helps you to better deal with your emotions, you might ask, “I wonder why I was given this opportunity?” Perhaps the answer will be, to help administer the consequences needed to inspire two likely alcoholics to get sober. Their families, other co-workers and taxpayers would all benefit from improved behaviors. Without intervention or until they enter latter-stage addiction, which often occurs only in retirement, the behaviors will probably worsen.

(Source for story idea: Annie’s Mailbox, July 21, 2004)

Alcoholic Myth-of-the-Month: There are countless myths about alcoholism. When I began writing my upcoming book, Myths and Realities of Alcoholism: Removing the Stigma from Mankind’s Most Destructive Disease, I figured I’d come up with a few dozen. I had to stop at over 100. The problem with myths is that they often lead to stigma, serving to reduce the odds of its identification in others. Unidentified disease cannot be treated, and without treatment, tragedy will inevitably occur. Therefore, the myths desperately need discrediting. The tragedy of movie producer Don Simpson was one of those that might have been prevented if close persons had identified addiction as the root of practically all his other problems—and if those persons had forcefully and without compromise intervened.

Film writer Robert Strauss, in a piece on producer Jerry Bruckheimer (“The man with the ‘golden gut’,” Los Angeles Daily News, July 11, 2004), wrote in regards to Bruckheimer’s partner Don Simpson:
“An excess-loving and often abusive wild man in the more stereotypical Hollywood egomaniac mold, Simpson, whose heart gave out at the age of 52 in 1996, also showed Bruckheimer what not to do.”

This description is filled with misinformation and euphemisms, serving only to perpetuate the myths of alcoholism. Simpson’s heart didn’t just “give out.” He was a multiple-drug addict, whose body was found “loaded with a combination of prescription and nonprescription medications,” including Cocaine, Unisom, Atarax/Vistaril, Librium, Valium, Compazine, Xanax, Desyrel and Tigan. According to The Wall Street Journal, he died of an overdose (March 27, 1996). Even if the immediate trigger was that his “heart gave out,” the true underlying cause of death was drug addiction. Euphemizing only confuses, keeping us from looking at addiction as the source of many (if not most) of society’s ills, woes and dysfunctions.

Yes, the addict in him loved “excess.” Because of damage to the neo-cortex (the human part of the brain capable of reason and logic), the limbic system (the reptilian brain responsible for survival and impulsive actions and reactions) was allowed free reign—resulting in behaviors that many would call “excessive.”

While no doubt abusive, addiction drove this. The real Don Simpson was likely a decent non-abusive person, as are most addicts before their disease is triggered, as well as in recovery. Likewise, addiction drives recklessness, which often looks like “wild man.” While non-addicts can take excessive risks, it’s generally only with their own lives, and usually well calculated. Addicts, on the other hand, can be mindlessly unconcerned with the lives of others. They almost always risk the safety of other people, if only by drinking beyond the legal limit and driving, which the typical alcoholic does an average of 80 times per year.

The “stereotypical Hollywood egomaniac mold” is one of addiction. Alcoholism is generally triggered during the first drinking episode, average age 13. Later, the alcoholic subconsciously asks himself, what profession or occupation will allow me to inflate my ego by wielding power over others? Those having a natural affinity for the arts become actors and others in the film industry, excellent occupations from which to wield power over fans and co-workers. Lucy Barry Robe in Co-Starring Famous Women and Alcohol identified 30% of Academy Award winning actors/actresses as having been alcohol or other drug addicts. Addiction drives egomania; no wonder it’s the Hollywood stereotype. But it’s really addiction and would, therefore, be more accurately described as the “stereotypical Hollywood addiction mold.”

Finally, an addict like Simpson couldn’t possibly have taught Bruckheimer what “not to do.” The odds of Bruckheimer engaging in such behaviors are remote since it appears he does not have the disease of addiction. An abusive egomaniac is almost always an addict first. The addiction causes and fuels the egomania that can result in multiple tragedies. As author James Graham wrote in regards to a far more destructive alcoholic, Ted Bundy, tragedy would likely have never occurred had diagnosis and intervention taken place early in the course of the disease.

Amazing Antics: Stories of Alcoholism-Driven Behaviors
Disability — or not — is no impediment to alcoholism

Story from This is True by Randy Cassingham, with “tagline:”

“BACK SEAT DRIVER: Michael Johnston, 47, of Peachtree City, GA, allegedly had too much to drink and thought it might be best if he didn't drive. So he had his friend Samuel McClain, 35, drive his golf cart for him; golf carts are common around Peachtree City. Johnston, police say, gave McClain directions while McClain drove. McClain's guide dog was along for the ride too -- McClain is blind. The s werving duo managed to make it for about two miles before crashing into a parked car. Both men were charged with reckless conduct. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) ...Next time let the dog drive.”

Usually, the alcoholic will drink beyond the legal .08 per cent blood alcohol level and drive without hesitation, typically doing so an estimated 80 times per year. Letting the “other” person drive can be a sign that a person is not alcoholic—unless that other person is blind. Symptoms of impaired judgment manifest in countless ways; we need to be alert to the variations. This is, truly, an original one.

In addition, the fact that the blind McClain took the wheel shows either incredibly bad judgment on his part, or alcoholically poor judgment. Having a disability does not provide immunity to alcoholism. The great composer, Beethoven, was deaf and alcoholic. The good news is that it wasn’t a blind Lt. Col. Frank Slade driving 70 mph on city streets.

(“This is True” is copyright 2004 by Randy Cassingham, used with permission. See for free subscriptions.)

Amazing Antics: Honorable Mention

The Eastern Arizona Courier (June 14) reported on an obscene gesture leading to a drug arrest on June 4.

Arresting officer Lance Shupe was heading back to his office at the end of the day, when he tried passing Barbara A. Hill. While Hill made it difficult to pass, Shupe was finally able to, at which point Hill “decided to get right on me.” When he turned into his office, she honked the horn and flipped him off. Shupe wisely decided he should consider an arrest before going home and, making contact with her when she parked nearby, smelled marijuana. Conducting a search, he found the drug along with some methamphetamine and paraphernalia. In regards to getting flipped the bird, Shupe was quoted as saying, “it’s OK to do it to the public, but if you’re a police officer, sorry!”

Turns out, Hill already had a suspended license for failing to file proof of financial responsibility, as well as for speeding and reckless driving.

Her on-the-road behaviors were symptomatic of addiction, starting with her refusal to let someone pass. The apparent mind-set of, “I’m more important than you, so I intend to stay ahead,” suggests a God-complex. Following too closely is extremely suggestive of alcoholism, since not only was it done in retaliation, but also because tailgating has been shown to indicate a 50% likelihood of DUI. By themselves, obscene gestures indicate a 60% probability of DUI which, in today’s day and age, strongly suggests alcohol or other drug addiction. Prior acts involving financial irresponsibility likely involve addiction half the time, as does reckless driving. Calculating the odds that all those 50% and 60% figures add up to alcoholism in the way I suggest in my book, Drunks, Drugs & Debits, brings us to a 95% likelihood of addiction. That doesn’t count the fact of (can we safely assume?) actually using an illegal substance such as methamphetamines, which would bring us to as near 100% as you can get.

Purchase these acclaimed Thorburn books NOW!

Doug Thorburn is respected as a leading pioneer in study of Early-Stage Alcoholism and other Drug Addictions. His books are critically acclaimed as powerful "must reads" by anyone whose life is affected by the many tragedies of addiction. Thorburn books may be purchased at or directly from Galt Publishing, which represents Doug Thorburn's books exclusively.

To purchase any of the above Thorburn books, go to

Click here to test someone you know for behaviorial indications of addiction.

Have you visited the Prevent Tragedy Foundation? The Prevent Tragedy Foundation is a tax-exempt 501c-3 organization, the goal of which is to educate the general public on the need for early detection of alcohol and other drug addiction. The Foundation is intended to answer a question that has been all-but-ignored by similar organizations: what does alcoholism look like before it becomes obvious?

Click here to visit the Prevent Tragedy Foundation


The Thorburn Addiction Report is a free newsletter published by Galt Publishing and Subscibe by visiting our web site at

Click here to visit

The Thorburn Addiction Report is available to newspapers as a regular feature column. Inquiries invited.

© 2004 Doug Thorburn All Rights Reserved.

ALL broadcast, publication, retransmission to e-mail lists, WWW or any other copying or storage, in any medium, online or not, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission from the author. Manual forwarding by e-mail to friends is allowed if 1) the newsletter is forwarded in its entirety and 2) no fee is charged. Please forward no more than three issues to any one person -- after that, they should get their own free subscription. We appreciate people who report violations of our copyright to us.

TO COMMENT to the author, use the Contact Us page on this website or write to Doug Thorburn, P.O. Box 7777, Northridge, CA 91327-7777