Vacations. Psychedelic Drugs. Ted Talks

For my vacation this year, I spent a week with my sister and her family in Lake City, Michigan. They always camp by the lake over the Fourth of July holiday, and I’ve only been there once before for my birthday. Lake Missaukee isn’t a very big lake compared to the others in and around Michigan, but it is a huge tourist attraction, and they boast that they have The Greatest Fourth in the North. That may very well be true.

Because I can’t be in the sun, I had to stand in the shade of the tree to take this picture of the glittering waves on the other side of the lake.

Now I’m back home; returned last Tuesday evening. I miss the family and friends and the campsite, but it is good to be here where it is quiet. Ramsay Hunt did not like the vacation.

On Saturday I binged on listening to the Ted Talks podcast, catching up on a podcast that I enjoy and missed while on vacation. the talks are informative, covering a wide range of topics of interest, and two in particular stuck with me.

The first was a talk by Rick Doblin about psychedelic drug assisted treatments. He’s a therapist who has used psychedelic treatment for patients with PTSD and/or depression for a number of years, with great success, by the way. I was particularly interested in what he had to say as my pain-management doctor has suggested I try infusions of Ketamine  to control this nasty stuff in my head that limits my life in so many ways.

Doblin gave a brief history of the use of these drugs in therapy and research:

In the 1950s and 60s, psychedelic research flourished all over the world and showed great promise for the fields of psychiatry, psychology and psychotherapy, neuroscience and the study of mystical experiences. But psychedelics leaked out of the research settings and began to be used by the counterculture, and by the anti-Vietnam War movement. And there was unwise use. And so there was a backlash. And in 1970, the US government criminalized all uses of psychedelics, and they began shutting down all psychedelic research.

On the basis of the data collected by Dublin and his team that showed the significant success of using some psychedelic drugs in treating mental health issues, “the FDA has declared MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD a breakthrough therapy. FDA has also declared psilocybin a breakthrough therapy for treatment-resistant depression and just recently approved esketamine for depression.”

I’m still doing research on Ketamine and how it’s used to treat chronic pain, but I may give it a try. Not the street drug, but the treatment by a doctor who is trained in the use of the drug.

The other was a TedTalk by Monica Lewinsky. I hadn’t heard her name in a while. Apparently because I don’t listen to rap. She said there are at least 40 songs that have her name in them, most of them rap.

What I didn’t know about her back when the Ken Starr hearings were going on about her relationship with President Clinton, is that she was in love with him. “Foolish, I know,” she says in her talk. “But who hasn’t made a foolish mistake when they were twenty-two?”

I also have to admit that I was among the many people who dismissed her as a person and only saw her as “that woman.” Therefore I didn’t realize the enormous ramifications this whole fiasco had on her life. The shame. The guilt. The humiliation. In the Ted Talk, she shared about how her mother would watch over her day and night, in fear that Monica might take her own life. Humiliation does that to people. She quoted a statistic that since 2012 the rate of suicide among teens and young college students has risen 87%.

USA Today Report on Teen Suicide

In a 2014 essay in Vanity Fair, Monica details the many difficulties she’s faced since she was the object of so much attention, and this is just a bit of that article:

“I know I’m not alone when it comes to public humiliation. No one, it seems, can escape the unforgiving gaze of the Internet, where gossip, half-truths, and lies take root and fester. We have created, to borrow a term from historian Nicolaus Mills, a “culture of humiliation” that not only encourages and revels in Schadenfreude but also rewards those who humiliate others, from the ranks of the paparazzi to the gossip bloggers, the late-night comedians, and the Web “entrepreneurs” who profit from clandestine videos.

“Yes, we’re all connected now. We can tweet a revolution in the streets or chronicle achievements large and small. But we’re also caught in a feedback loop of defame and shame, one in which we have become both perps and victims. We may not have become a crueler society—although it sure feels as if we have—but the Internet has seismically shifted the tone of our interactions. The ease, the speed, and the distance that our electronic devices afford us can also make us colder, more glib, and less concerned about the consequences of our pranks and prejudice. Having lived humiliation in the most intimate possible way, I marvel at how willingly we have all signed on to this new way of being.”

Monica gave this bit of advice in her Ted Talk. “Speak up with intention, not for attention.”

Wise words indeed!

That’s all for me folks. I do hope your week starts off on a good note. Whatever you have on the agenda, Be Safe – Be Happy.

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