Family

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I have had a lot of trouble with the idea of criminalization of drug addiction for a very long time.

I am only one of a lot of folks who say “addiction is a real disease.”  People feel every bit as sick as people with other diseases, sometimes more.

The patients are certainly able to die every bit as dead. Read more on Babies Born Addicted…

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In 1932, my paternal Grandmother-Of-Blessed-Memory bought the house where my father and aunt – and eventually my brother and I — grew up.  Until her passing while I was in medical school, she was the undisputed queen of the castle.

As a stereo-typical Jewish Mother, she was in constant competition with my mother in the kitchen.  My mother always tried to act pleasantly, but between her father driving in from two hours to the west and arriving at 6 am on Sundays to tell her she was too fat, and my father’s mother besting her in the kitchen, she was generally miserable and had little ability to hide her misery from me.

My father did not show my mother any affection where I could see. Read more on The Power Of Silence…

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Even though I am both a woman and a psychiatrist, I am no expert on the mother-daughter relationship.

My Mother-Of-Blessed-Memory was a “good” woman by any measure — the faithful and virtuous homemaker.  She spent a lot of time thanklessly trying to nurture my Father-Of-Blessed-Memory — a pretty grandiose if creatively powerful music writing and arranging manic with some Asperger traits — and my Brother-Of-Blessed-Memory — a full blown Asperger’s who was also bipolar.

They took so much of her psychic energy it is a wonder she had any left at all for me.  But she did, and she told me how she had to fight to get me freedom, the days she would drop me off in the car when I went to the Secondary Science Training program, or even just to walk in downtown Boston. Read more on Mothers and Daughters and Such…

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We dropped in on the new Disney movie “Frozen” on the way home from work, where I had been “beatup” spiritually by some demanding and decidedly un-charming patients — some of whom would have been more appropriately treated by a stint in the local state “correctional” institution.

My omniscient husband seemed to know that this movie, of which I knew basically nothing before dropping in, was exactly what I needed, and more.

It is a work of art, a piece of magic wonderment.  Not just artistically, but on every imaginable level.  I mean Disney — especially since annexing Pixar — is not only on top of everyone else, but keeps topping itself in what I would have considered impossible ways. Read more on Frozen Is A B-r-r-r-fect…

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The Tower Hill School in Delaware is considered top of the rank of independent schools in Delaware. Maybe, some say, the best private college prep in the United States.

Their website looks a lot like the website for my old prep school — Beaver Country Day School For Young Ladies, Chestnut Hill, MA.

Yes, in the days of the class of 1969, it was girls only, and was almost a relic of bygone days, with mixers (with boys’ prep schools) where an effort was still made to keep couples a certain distance apart.  I was one of the early token Jews in a system where all visible human skin was the color of a bleached aspirin tablet. Read more on School Sex Scandals Among The Rich And Powerful…

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I remember the first time I saw a young patient with older person’s diseases.  I was in a public clinic, not far from the industrial waterfront in California.  She was 24 years old, weighed 380 pounds, had already had what she claimed was a “slight” heart attack.  She had type 2 diabetes which I thought was virtually impossible to get at such a tender age.  She was able to do little other than to shrug her shoulders.  She said something about health problems having been in her family.  Me, the only thing I could think of was that I was only through 3 years of so of a seven year medical school at her age.  I was quite overweight, but if I had been struck with her degree of obesity or her medical problems, I don’t think I would have had the stamina to get by.  Sure enough, she was neither working nor going to school.  When you are an adolescent, you think you are going to be strong and healthy forever.  I remember looking at patients and never thinking I would be as ill as they were. I remember seeing patients in intensive care in comas, never thinking for a moment that I would have three of them in my life before I was able to figure out the hereditary metabolic that had caused them. Read more on Patients Avoiding Hospitals and Doctors…

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TRADITION! It’s the Fiddler on the Roof song. TRADITION! It’s my grandfather showing up at 6AM on Sunday morning to explain to me that a really smart girl would be working on finding a man who was rich enough to keep her at home so she would not need to work at all. TRADITION! It’s my parents telling me that if medical school did not work out I could come back home to suburban Boston and quietly become a French teacher. I don’t much care for tradition, mainly because I perceive it as the opposite of change.  I am in favor of empowering individuals, opening up the fan of possibilities, removing things that make people feel poorly. I guess the father and daughter dance is a great American tradition.  Me, I tried to dance with my father once at a Bar Mitzvah reception when I was young.  He was quite inept, spun me around in a circle and actually stepped on my little foot.  I can only wonder if that hasn’t anything to do with why my feet are problematic.  It matters little; I would never have sued dear old dad.  Great American tradition?  I think not. Read more on Tradition!…

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When a marijuana patient visits me for permission to use that drug, I have to ask them, gently, how long they have used it.  Most, if they are old enough, do not give me an answer that I can quantify.  Instead, they start with something like, “It seems like yesterday I used it for fun.  Now, I need it just to (fill in the blank).” Survive, live, walk, or keep from throwing up.  They wonder about how and when it changed from a form of recreation to a form of drug treatment.

They never seem to believe it has already been a drug, for thousands of years, in other cultures.  If I give them enough time, they count their own age and their own problems by how they use it.  With a few thousand papers published every year, mostly in other countries, it would be crazy at this point to try to believe it wasn’t a drug.  For an amazing number of folks, it seems to be the way they reckon the passage of their lives. Read more on The Passage of Time…

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At some time in our lives, we all need to be told we’re good or shown the way.  A simple story about giving kids from Oakland’s toughest neighborhoods a chance to rise above the violence in their communities strangely touched me and compelled me to write.  As I do this, I am not that far from Oakland.  I have heard enough to tell you that the culture of violence described is not exaggerated. Patients who see me for marijuana permission are happy and delighted they do not have to drive there.

So there are children who grow up in a culture of violence.  I see adults.  Not too long ago, I was seeing adults for social security evaluations in Los Angeles. Many of them had been caught in crossfire, perhaps shot on their way to the supermarket or even in front of their own homes.  They told me they did not know why or by whom, and sometimes they still had bullets in them somewhere.  Other times it was just a memory that so overwhelmed them that the quality of their post-traumatic stress disorder was like the sort of thing that you see in Vietnam veterans. Read more on It Takes So Little…

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Perusing the internet, I am overwhelmed with people doing “weird” things.  But how do we define what is weird, when it is weird, and why it is weird?

I remember seeing the movie Fiddler on the Roof when I was quite young.  I shuddered when I heard the song “Tradition,” because it was evident, even then, that descriptions of the way people should or should not be caused a whole lot of pain.  The particular tradition that drove poor Tevye to hell and back was getting three daughters married off and being Jewish, which required dowries and Jewish grooms.

My parents attempted to receive my husband — who at that time called himself “the goy next door” and was willing to wear a yamelke and articulate a few words of yiddish he had learned from Mad Magazine.  But you could tell that this was a problem for them.  An eventuality I found just excellent in my life and which I credit with an uncommon level of happiness. I can say now that my marriage is happier than theirs ever was, at least from all that I saw.  Part of this comes from my willingness to ignore a tradition they took as dogma. Read more on The Rights of Individuals to Punish Each Other…

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