June-July 2009 / Issue No. 48

Many loyal readers may be unaware of the fact that my primary income-producing activity is tax preparation and financial planning. I have been an Enrolled Agent and Certified Financial Planner for almost three decades. As in the field of addiction, I offer an alternative view of the tax and financial world. You are welcome to inquire about these services, which may be more important than ever in this era of financial challenges. Thanks to the telecommunication revolutions, we have clients in 26 states.

Welcome to the Thorburn Addiction Report. Each month, we bring you several sections, including:

1. Top Story of the month
2. 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 where someone deserves the Darwin Award, but lived.

There is something for everyone!

We attempt to post each report to the blog within a day of its arrival in your mailbox. Although we have posted little else, depending on time constraints and other factors, I may begin posting a weekly “Dear Doug” column. We’ll be interested in any thoughts you, our loyal readers, may have.

By the way, call us (800-482-9424) for deals on books you won’t be able to refuse. (They are also available, of course, at www.amazon.com or www.galtpublishing.com.) They make a terrific gift to teens and anyone thinking about becoming professionally or romantically involved with someone else! (…including other drivers, landlords, tenants, employers, employees, neighbors...)

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James W. Von Brunn, Racist Octogenarian—and Alcoholic

In Drunks, Drugs & Debits, I explained that the addicted ego can impel the addict to degrade, defile and ridicule others in an effort to build himself up. Sometimes this devolves into hatred, which can be directed against entire classes of people, as in racism or bigotry. I surmised that while not all racists and bigots are addicts, probably most are. Former Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver recanted his idea of a war between races only after he got sober. Former Governor George Wallace died “not drinking” with huge support among Blacks, who formerly had been the target of his racial epithets. Adolf Hitler was an amphetamine and barbiturate addict. As mentioned in How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics, while a few cites do not prove the case, one is hard-pressed to find an example of a person filled with hatred, especially one who acts out on that emotion, who is not afflicted with brain damage rooted in alcohol or other-drug addiction.

The trouble is proving it, which requires evidence of addictive use. As pointed out in the Top Stories on Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and Anthrax Killer Bruce Ivins, alcoholism, if mentioned at all, is often relegated to the 28th paragraph of stories describing idiotic or destructive behaviors.

The story of 88-year-old James W. Von Brunn (allegedly) killing a black security guard at the Washington, D.C. Holocaust museum is no exception. According to acquaintances, he had been “growing more angry, hateful and desperate in recent weeks,” when he wrote, “It’s time to kill all the Jews.” He was reportedly in financial trouble, telling others his Social Security had been cut, which he blamed on “someone in Washington looking at his Web site,” which is filled with racist rants and extreme hatred of Jews and Blacks. He claimed the Holocaust was a hoax and that a Jewish conspiracy was out to “destroy the white gene pool.”

It would be enormously educational for the uninitiated public if journalists and historians mentioned the likelihood of alcoholism in the introductory paragraphs of stories in which confabulated thinking takes form in horrific behaviors. Instead, an FBI informant who had contact with Von Brunn is quoted as saying, “You’d get the impression that he was intelligent and a bit off,” which seems rather innocuous. A cousin said her family had disowned him 50 years ago, believing him to be mentally ill. One article quotes his ex-wife saying she’d divorced him three decades ago because she “could no longer take his racist beliefs,” with no mention of any drinking, much less alcoholism. Finally, the likely root of his twisted thinking and horrific actions can be found in the 20th paragraph of another piece, which devotes greater detail to his ex-wife’s comments: “He is an abusive, racist alcoholic” and during their marriage “he drank red wine all day.” The first comment would never have included the word “alcoholic” if she wasn’t, in her mind, certain, and the latter would never have been mentioned were the use not an issue.

However, alcoholism is no more “the” prerequisite for racism than it is for smoking. The link between behaviors and alcoholism is partially a function of society’s norms. Non-addicts who grow up in families or cultures filled with racists or smokers are clearly at risk of continuing the misbehaviors. Smoking is a useless clue to alcoholism in Japan because practically everyone smokes, but is extremely useful in California where most non-alcoholics have given up tobacco. The tattoo is becoming a less helpful clue in identifying likely alcoholism as it becomes an increasingly accepted form of art. Racism, however, has become increasingly unacceptable and, as such, is probably a superb clue to alcoholism—which, where it exists, explains the distorted thinking and, on rare occasion, nightmarish behaviors.

There are few if any instances in the last decade of horrific news events in which alcoholism cannot be linked to racist-based murder or other “hate” crimes. Benjamin Smith, who went on a shooting rampage against Jews, Blacks and Asians in Illinois and Indiana over the 4th of July weekend in 1999 had spent a year in drug counseling three years earlier, when he was apprehended for possession of illegal drugs. Buford Furrow Jr., who murdered a mail carrier and wounded five others during a rampage through the San Fernando Valley in August 1999, was reportedly drunk when, after trying to have himself admitted to a psychiatric hospital, he was arrested for threatening to stab a hospital staffer who tried to take his car keys. An attorney defending racist skinheads in 2000 said, seemingly in their defense, that they were far more likely to fight each other than harm others, since they get “drunk together and take mind-altering drugs when they’re not in prison.” A story in Alcoholism Myths and Realities, from myth # 65 “He’s no alcoholic; he’s just racist,” is illustrative: “The story of Sven Hermany may be typical of German-style Neo-Nazi skinheads. Hermany began drinking at age 14 and was in trouble from the outset. He…followed up with crimes progressively more violent…[and at] a vocational boarding school for troubled students…found it difficult to get out of bed after drinking ‘a lot,’ as he put it….At age 21 after drinking all night, he and a friend attacked a black man, William Poku, at a bus stop….At his trial Hermany announced, ‘I am a racist.’ Appealing to the court later for a lighter sentence, he told the judge he had changed. He was no longer a Nazi and, in a statement suggesting he had put two and two together, he promised to ‘give up drinking.’”

Alcoholic egomania impels the addict to wield power over others capriciously. The form that such abuse of power takes is a function of the addict’s environment, circumstances, physical prowess, constitution, skill-sets, virulence of the particular strain of alcoholism inherited, the particular drug or drugs of choice and underlying personality type. On occasion, these channel distorted thinking toward racism and manifest in horrific acts. Even an 88-year-old who has, judging by his age and likely decades of use, a particularly hardy constitution, is susceptible.


Runners-up for top story of the month:

Jesse James Hollywood
, accused of ordering the murder of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz in 2000 and finally standing trial in a Santa Barbara, California courtroom. In a classic case replete with addicts, Hollywood allegedly kidnapped Markowitz in August, 2000, in revenge over a $1,200 drug debt owed by his older half-brother, Ben Markowitz. According to prosecutors, after learning from his family’s lawyer that kidnapping can carry a life sentence, Hollywood gave his friend Ryan Hoyt a gun and car and told him to drive to Santa Barbara and “take care of business.” Hoyt was convicted of being the shooter and sentenced to death for the murder. In a truly bizarre case of distorted perceptions or gross naiveté, the younger Markowitz was allegedly held captive for three days, sometimes bound with duct tape and at other times allowed to smoke dope and drink with Hollywood’s friends, with plenty of opportunities for escape. In the meantime, Hollywood, then 20, went on the lam and was arrested five years later in Brazil.

One might ask, “What took so long to get this to trial?” The answer is another Hollywood, where film producer Nick Cassavetes became intrigued by the dark side of the suburbs (all of the participants lived in the L.A. suburbs of the San Fernando Valley). He obtained confidential case files from Santa Barbara prosecutor Ron Zonen, who later explained he was thinking he might help ferret out the fugitive with a bit of movie publicity. Zonen’s cooperation with Cassavetes resulted in years of litigation from Jesse Hollywood’s attorney, James Blatt, who tried unsuccessfully to block the release of the film (“Alpha Dog,” released in 2007) and have Zonen and the entire Santa Barbara district attorney’s office booted off the case. (There’s more on “Alpha Dog,” this month’s “Review of the Month,” below.)

Terror plot suspects James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, accused of plotting to bomb New York City synagogues and shoot down military airplanes with missiles. The first three have histories of drug convictions. Payen is on medication for schizophrenia, which is often triggered by methamphetamine addiction. Cromitie smoked pot the day he planned to blow up the temples. While pot isn’t quite hashish, recall that the root of the word “assassin” comes from a terrorist group founded by Hasan ibn al-Sabbah in 1090 who trained followers as killers by drugging them. Because of the heavy use of hashish in their intoxication, these early terrorists became known as “Hashishiyn,” from the Arabic “user of hashish” and, later, “Assassins.” (Those interested in early thoughts on terrorism and addiction may find the piece here if interested, as well as the later TAR Top Stories at issues 24 and 13.)

Playboy’s May 2009 Playmate of the Month Crystal McCahill, refusing to answer reporters’ questions about her DUI arrest and instead urging them to attend her Playboy autograph-signing event at Club Crescendo (Chicago) later that day. Her blood alcohol level was over .16 percent when she ran a red light in January. Being able to drive at a .16 percent is an almost certain indication of alcoholism. Beauty, after money, is the addict’s greatest enabler. Hef? Are you paying attention?

Former Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu, pleading guilty on charges of swindling investors out of $60 million via a Ponzi scheme and, a few weeks later, found guilty on four counts of campaign-finance fraud. His rags-to-riches story, accomplished by turning the riches of others to rags, was told in the October 2007 issue of TAR under runner-up for top story.

Music producer Phil Spector, sentenced to 19 years-to-life in prison for second-degree murder. Spector earned top story rights in the June 2007 edition of TAR, in which his Jekyll and Hyde, grandiose and just plain crazy behaviors are linked to obvious longstanding alcoholism.

Under watch:

In an early 2009 piece on white collar crime, The Economist magazine mentioned something those who have read my books would predict: “Many [Club Fed and other white collar] prisoners suddenly discover, post-conviction, that they had a drinking problem….” With this in mind, these are stories for which the evidence of alcoholism is in the behaviors themselves, even though absolute proof in public sources may be lacking.

James William Lull, who failed to show up for sentencing in court in Hawaii after being convicted of scamming more than 50 investors out of $30 million in a Ponzi scheme because his car ripped through a barbed-wire fence and plunged 200 feet down a canyon, killing him. Lull, 60, while manager at the Kaua’i branch of U.S. Financial Mortgage Corp, engaged in what he referred to as a “sideline business” of giving bridge loans to home buyers who couldn’t qualify for conventional financing. He convinced wealthy investors to provide “low-risk” short-term loans with high interest rates, presenting them with loan applications he claimed borrowers had filled out. He never made the bridge loans and “diverted” the money for personal use. He filed bankruptcy in 2006, declaring more than $31 million in debt and $6.7 million in assets, including two estates in Kaua’i and one in Idaho. He later admitted to a failure to disclose an estimated $3 million in diamonds, opals, coins and collectible pool cues. The behaviors suggesting alcoholism include the crime itself, as well as an effort to inflate the ego by showing off his collectibles.

Dallas police officer Robert Powell, placed on paid administrative leave after chasing a family to a parking spot near a hospital’s emergency entrance for failing to stop at a stop sign and trying to prevent the family in the vehicle from visiting a mother dying from breast cancer. While the rest of the family ultimately rushed inside, the man, who turns out to have been 26-year-old NFL running back Ryan Moats, pleaded with Powell to let him go. After explaining, “My mother-in-law is dying,” Powell lectured Moats and threatened him with arrest. Instead of quickly apologizing, he said, “Ok, I can screw you over. I’d rather not do that. Your attitude will dictate everything that happens, and right now, your attitude sucks….I can charge you with fleeing….I can take you to jail.” His wife’s mother died before Moats was able to see her. Behaviors suggestive of alcoholism in Powell include an abuse of power and failure to quickly get reasonable, particularly when we consider where the incident took place.

Woollahra, NSW, Australian native Marcus Einfeld, 70, who received a $77 speeding ticket from a photo radar system and got it dismissed when he swore a friend was driving his car that day. The problem: his friend had been dead for three years. The other problem: Einfeld was a federal judge. After pleading guilty to perjury and perverting the course of justice (he fabricating evidence by producing a detailed 20-page statement describing a fictitious “alternative” driver) Einfeld was stripped of his Queen’s Counsel title, sacked from his post as Judge, had one of the country’s highest honors, the Order of Australia, revoked and is in the process of being disbarred. Einfeld is the first Australian superior court judge to be imprisoned. After being sentenced to three years Einfeld said, “I don’t think I’m in the slightest bit dishonest. I just made a mistake.” After the speeding ticket came to light, other improprieties were found, including padding his curriculum vitae, purchasing doctorates from US diploma mills and plagiarism. Behaviors suggesting alcoholism include the need to win at any price, confabulated thinking and, well, plain old gross stupidity.

Tracy, California Sunday school teacher Melissa Huckaby, 28, pleading “not guilty” in the slaying of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu and separately charged with slipping “harmful substances” to a 7-year-old girl and an adult male. Since this is just the beginning of the criminal complaint, we’ll defer other comments—but she is clearly “under watch.”

Former Bolingbrook, Illinois police sergeant Drew Peterson (finally) arrested for the murder of one of his ex-wives, Kathleen Savio. He has not yet been charged in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy, who told her pastor, Neil Schori, that she knew her husband had killed Kathleen and she feared she might be next. She vanished a few weeks after. Lucy Barry Robe reported in Co-Starring Famous Women and Alcohol that she found 85% odds of alcoholism in someone married four times. While Peterson hasn’t yet been convicted, research cited in Drunks, Drugs & Debits suggest that over 80% of those committing murder are alcoholics. Peterson is reported to be charming and charismatic, which is also consistent with a diagnosis of alcoholism. Now run the odds.

Alcoholic victims of the month:

The rest of the human race apart from North Korea’s Kim Jong Il and his son Kim Jong Un, who has been anointed the next leader of the totalitarian socialist state by the elder Kim. Un is said to be competitive, proficient in English and, oh yes, a “heavy drinker” just like his alcoholic father. No wonder, according to Kim’s former Sushi chef Kenji Fujimoto, Un “acts just like his father and is [his] favorite.” As I wrote in the October 2004 TAR, the most dangerous people alive are alcoholic despots, especially those with access to weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately, addicts are capable of anything (and I mean anything). North Korea just tested another nuclear bomb and appears to be preparing to test-fire an array of medium- and long-range missiles.

Co-dependents of the month:

The San Francisco Zoo, which settled a lawsuit with two brothers who survived the Christmas Day 2007 tiger attack after they and their friend Carlos Sousa, Jr. taunted the tiger, reported in the January-February 2008 TAR. Carlos was killed, but Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal, in whose car an empty bottle of vodka was found after the attack, are said to have raked in a cool $900,000. “Other” escapades, reported in the September-October 2008 issue of TAR, included several counts of felony shoplifting and imprisonment for violation of probation involving a high-speed chase for Paul and public drunkenness and resisting arrest for Kulbir. Most lotto winners run through their take within a few years; the addictionologist in me predicts these lawsuit lottery winners should fare no differently.

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, where possible, proactively intervene.

“Alpha Dog” – superb portrayal of adolescent poly-drug addicts

One critic described “Alpha Dog,” Nick Cassavetes’ thinly disguised story of the murder of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz for which Jesse James Hollywood is on trial, as a “glossy yet unflinching portrait of violent, hedonistic teenagers.” Johnny Truelove’s (Jesse James Hollywood’s) chain-smoking father Sonny (played by Bruce Willis) suggested “it’s all about parenting,” which is what Cassavetes suggested in several interviews. These are typical takes on a film that is, at its core, really about adolescent poly-drug addiction.

The film is, at first, very difficult to watch. It is filled to the brim with profanities, tattoos, boozing, drugging, violence, screaming, reckless driving and addicts’ confabulations. The codependent (and probably alcoholic) parents are crazed, yet continue to enable. The older son, Jake Mazursky (Ben Markowitz in real life, played by Ben Foster), is the most vile out-of-control methamphetamine addict we’ve seen since “Salton Sea” (starring the great Vincent D’Onofrio). But the story mellows a bit, particularly as we get to know the younger Zack Mazursky (victim-in-real-life Nicholas Markowitz, played by Anton Yelchin), who becomes complicit in naïve fashion in his own abduction. Zack is too endearing and cute to be savagely murdered, even if he seems quite happy to have a taste of the addicts’ decadent lifestyles in the largely party-like atmosphere. (It’s impossible to say with certainty that he inherited addiction. Although he seems to regard his older brother with, as one critic put it, both admiration and envy, this appears to have been his only foray into drug use.) The bond that develops between Zack and Frankie (one of Truelove’s addict friends, played by a surprisingly good Justin Timberlake) also helps to tone the movie down just enough for this reviewer to be able to give it an almost three stars out of four.

But it’s not about lousy parenting, even if non-addicted parents might have intervened before tragedy happened. Nor is it, as another critic said, heavy-panting exploitation of the crime, since reporting the tragic results of addiction help to protect the rest of us, if only we would learn. Another critic suggested that Cassavetes’ suggestion that it’s about lousy parenting is “rot,” instead claiming it’s about “the pleasure of watching beautiful bodies at rest and in motion. It’s about the allure of youth, the erotics of violence and the inevitable comeuppance that must always be meted out whenever youth strays too far from the fold….” As he put it, what rot. The sober among us do not think it alluring or erotic. It’s about the tragedies that can occur when addiction isn’t properly dealt with. The comeuppance all-too-often comes too late.

Image Daughter abuse

Dear Doug:

Last year our family attended a large party given by my daughter and son-in-law. Having previously borne the brunt of my daughter’s violent temper, we hesitated to stay overnight—but did. Big mistake.

The next morning, the swearing and raging at her father left him in tears. There was no contact between them until I received a long email from my daughter almost begging for a sign from her father that he wants her in his life. I forwarded the email to my husband and, hoping this was an opening for renewed contact, he called her. She immediately went into a rant about how he has ruined her life and slammed the phone in his ear. He was devastated.

I’ve suggested to her that she seek counseling, but she insists it’s all her father’s fault and he’s the one who needs help. Can you help me put my family back together again?


In the Middle

. . . . .

Dear Codependent,

Other columnists would suggest that, although your daughter has “mental health” issues, your husband should write her a letter simply saying he loves her and hopes they can be closer. They would rightly say she’s a ticking time bomb and that it serves no purpose to communicate more than briefly until she admits she needs help.

Such columnists would send your daughter to counseling. However, the odds of alcohol or other-drug addiction are at least 80%. If she’s an addict, counseling will serve only to enable her misbehaviors. Many recovering addicts admit that their biggest enablers were counselors, who are easily bamboozled because they are either unable to identify likely addicts or are not given the tools to properly deal with them.

She likely was coming down off the booze from the party, when alcoholics are particularly susceptible to rage due to blood vessel constriction, a drop in blood glucose, a decrease in brain amines, serotonin and norepinephrine, and wildly fluctuating levels of hormones, enzymes and body fluids. Although her behavior hasn’t (yet) reached criminal levels, as I point out in Drunks, Drugs & Debits (p. 93), “Too often, the crime occurs when the addict is not under the influence or is coming down, when suffering is at its worst.” The same is true of other misbehaviors.

Behavioral clues to alcoholism are clearly evident in your letter. They include propitious use of foul language (clue # 2, under “A Supreme Being Complex,” in How to Spot Hidden Alcoholics), verbally abusing her father (clue # 26 in the same section), blaming her father for all of her problems (clue # 2 in the chapter on “Poor Judgment”), obvious resentment of her father (clue # 3, which follows from blame) and slamming the phone down in her father’s ear ( “reverse telephonitis,” clue # 23 under “Supreme Being Complex”).

The odds are that until your daughter gets clean and sober, counseling will serve only to prolong the awful behaviors. Begin the process of arranging an intervention. Start today.

(Source for story idea: Annie’s Mailbox, May 22, 2009.)

+ + + + +

And, a bonus story:

Party time for teens at the ex-wife’s house

Dear Doug,

My 15-year-old daughter splits time between my house and my ex-wife’s. She often attends parties and sleepovers where the parents provide drinks for the kids, some of whom are younger than my daughter. These parents see nothing wrong with it. “We may as well provide a safe place for the kids.” Worse, my ex-wife agrees. I’ve thought of calling authorities, but hesitate to escalate things to that level. What do you think?


Good dad

. . . . .

Dear Codependent,

Other columnists might suggest that parents talk to their children honestly and openly about the hazards of drinking. Because I understand that kids are going to get their hands on booze regardless and know well the futility of prohibition, I am torn.

However, the fact that your wife is an ex- is suggestive. Roughly 40% of divorces involve an alcohol or other-drug addict in at least one spouse. Since you are clearly not, your ex- may well be. If so, your daughter, who appears to have an unusual propensity to hang out with alcoholics and children of same, may have inherited her mother’s disease.

I would investigate your daughter’s behaviors at these parties. Show up unexpectedly with cell phone in hand. If any behaviors are occurring that are inappropriate for 15-year-olds, phone the police and remove your daughter. If your daughter appears to have early-stage alcoholism, take her—forcibly—to rehab.

(Source for story idea: Annie’s Mailbox, May 17, 2009.)

+ + + + +

And, because we shouldn’t pick only on Annie, here’s one from Amy:

Financially irresponsible brother-in-law

Dear Doug:

Dave, my 45-year-old brother-in-law, has always been financially irresponsible. But it’s getting worse.

After filing for bankruptcy a few years ago, he and his second wife began living rent-free with my 90-year-old father-in-law, Arthur. Now Dave is depleting Arthur’s savings.

Although he’s never lived with us, a collection agency recently left a message on our answering machine asking that Dave pay his bills. I have no idea how they got our phone number, but I think we should tell Dave about this call and suggest he take steps to become financially responsible. My husband says it’s none of our business. Who’s right?


Trying to do what’s right for both Dave and Arthur

. . . . .

Dear Codependent,

Other columnists might suggest that your husband knows more than he is letting on. He may have agreed to cosign for a loan with his brother, which could account for the fact that the collection agency had your phone number. They’d tell you to contact the agency and find out just how entangled your finances are with Dave’s. They’d also implore you to do whatever you can to influence Arthur to protect what is his.

This is excellent advice. However, there are few if any instances of this degree of financial abuse independent of alcohol and other-drug addiction. If such addiction is at the bottom of Dave’s misbehaviors, he will do whatever it takes to protect his source of income. Your logic and common sense will be no match for his lies and manipulations. Therefore, you need to strike at the likely core. After (hopefully) confirming that your husband is not a co-alcoholic, educate your husband about alcoholism and do everything you can to create a united front against Dave. He needs to be made to experience all the pain you can inflict, including (if you can) being thrown out of Arthur’s home. One idea might be to get Social Services involved by proving elder abuse. I’ll leave other ideas to your imagination. Nothing should be left off the table.

(Source for story idea: Ask Amy, May 4, 2009.)

“We’re all squeamish about mental illness.” “It’s the psychiatric issues,” “it has to do with their distorted thinking and depression,” and “more than three-fourths of the offenders in 30 murder-suicides in the Cleveland, Ohio, area had signs of mental illness.”

So reported a CNN.com article, “’Hopeless dads kill their families out of love,” on the recent spate of murder-suicides by family members, in its attempt to explain why familicide occurs. Cari Wheat, whose father Curt Wheat shot his wife, Marie, as she slept in their bedroom and then killed himself in 2003 explained, “We’re all squeamish about mental illness.” She believes her father pulled the trigger “out of a sense of love for her mother.” While an old story, it’s the same story as in April 2009, when New York attorney William Parente asphyxiated and beat his wife and two daughters in a Maryland hotel before killing himself, and in May 2009, when Troy Bellar killed his wife and two of his sons in their home in Tampa, Florida. After each incident of familicide, the question is invariably asked, “Why did they do it?”

Many researchers believe that a person who kills his family “could have control issues that lead him to decide the fate of the children, spouse and pets.” They suggest these are mostly mentally ill people who believe, “This is mine. Nobody else is able to take care of them except me. If I can’t control this in my life, I’ll preserve it in death so that my world doesn’t change.” They blame psychiatric issues. They claim these “thoughts become action when a precipitating event, or trigger, occurs, such as divorce, suspected infidelity or loss of job,” without which the crime would not have occurred.

It’s extraordinary that some think we are “squeamish” about mental illness when that is the only perceived cause of familicide pinpointed in an article in which alcohol and other-drug addiction, the far more likely underlying cause, isn’t even mentioned. Yet the odds (particularly when stacked together) greatly favor substance addiction as the underlying motive for a need to control and commission of the ultimate crime.

Why then are triggering events so often confused with the cause, with the latter omitted? Because the myths of addiction have created a stigma, which makes us even more squeamish than does mental illness. Why would such events qualify as triggers? Because they are ego-deflationary, which compels the injured ego to do all it can to compensate and repair the damage to itself. As the ultimate act of control, there is no more complete ego-inflating act than taking the life of another. Because the “experts” do not grasp the fundamental idea of alcoholic egomania, they fail to identify the underlying cause of most tragedy.

Although nothing else could be found on the Internet regarding Curt Wheat, the daughter admits “he was being treated for depression and trying different medications.” As shown in the April-May 2007 TAR Top Story on Cho Seung-Hui most being so treated are already proven alcohol and other-drug addicts. Curt Wheat and Troy Bellar are not likely exceptions.

Alcoholic Antic-of-the-Month

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

"RIGHT IN THE TOOL OF HIS TRADE: Lawyer Louis Brunoforte was having a beer at the Chic-A-Boom Room (no, really!) in Dunedin, Fla. When he came back from the restroom, a woman was sitting in his chair looking through her purse. He waited until she looked up. "She asked me if I had a problem," Brunoforte said. "I said, 'I'm just waiting for you to finish so I can sit in my chair.' She said, 'Oh, it's your chair? Has it been your chair forever?'" She then cursed him, so he cursed her back, and that's when the woman hit the 6-foot-tall, 240-pound attorney. "She cold-cocked me right in the mouth," Brunoforte said. "She threw a punch like a man would throw a punch. She completely caught me off guard." The bartender called the cops. By the time officers arrived the woman had left, but they found her driving nearby, and arrested Rachel Adams, 45, for battery -- and drunk driving. (St. Petersburg Times) ..."

This was a “tagline challenge,” where Randy lets his readers create the “best ending to the story.” My favorites included “…She should have warned him that the bar was named after her” (from Jill in California), “…A good lawyer who stands up for his rights can take a good right” (Bill in Minnesota), “…So Tit For Tat is a legal expression? Who knew?” (Mike in Texas) and the winner, “…What a bad lawyer: she made a motion to strike and he was not ready to object?” I think the most apropos for antic-of-the-month, in which a likely addict deserved the Darwin Award but lived, was submitted by Mike in Missouri: “…Good thing the place wasn’t called the Chic-A-Bang room, or I hate to think what Adams could have pulled from her purse.” Then we would have discovered just how dangerous it can be to mess with an addict.

(Story and tagline from This is True, copyright 2009 by Randy Cassingham, used with permission.)


To view reader's comments on last month's Thorburn Addiction Report and Doug's responses please visit the Thorburn Weblog at PrevenTragedy.com.

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Click here o purchase any of the above Thorburn books

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 PrevenTragedy.com. Subscibe by visiting our web site at www.PrevenTragedy.com.

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

Copyright Doug Thorburn All Rights Reserved.

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send your email to report@preventragedy.com or write to
Doug Thorburn, P.O. Box 7777, Northridge, CA 91327-7777