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Why do children want to grow up?
Because they experience their lives as constrained by immaturity and perceive adulthood as a condition of greater freedom and opportunity.
But what is there today, in America, that very poor and very rich adolescents want to do but cannot do?
Not much: they can "do" drugs, "have" sex, "make" babies, and "get" money (from their parents, crime, or the State).
For such adolescents, adulthood becomes synonymous with responsibility rather than liberty.  Is it any surprise that they remain adolescents?

- Thomas Szasz

Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser Boonville, California (date unknown)

Models and Glue

I'll have to admit, this "news" article caught me off guard.  Get them off glue and into sex?  At least the model held their attention...

Tongue in Cheek: The Drug Connection

by Helen Jones

Excerpts from Case Study #2,486.  Family Therapist: Nona Capisco, Phd.  Covering counselling from 1994 - 96.  Subject referred for counselling by school principal.

Problem: Suspected drug use by teenager, Henry S___, aged 15, hereinafter referred to as Primary Subject (PS).

Secondary Subjects: His family, consisting of mother, stepfather, stepsister, aged 20, stepbrother, aged 10 and grandmother.

2 January 1994 Case Note #1 Session 9 - 10am - Subject appeared healthy, neatly dressed and of average height and weight.  His attitude however was sullen and withdrawn and for his first session refused to speak in spite of urging by therapist.  (This behaviour was to last through several sessions.)

3 January 1994 Case Note #2 Session 1 - 2pm - Mother came to the office.  Well-dressed, youthful and attractive, but appeared very nervous and chain-smoked while drinking coffee.  She claimed she had no idea what kinds of drugs were involved, but that the school administrators seemed convinced that her son was a user because of his sudden drop in grades and inattention in class as well as his defiant attitude towards his teachers.  She had no idea where PS might have obtained any drugs, or if he was having any kinds of problems at home.

After approximately 20 minutes, claimed she had a headache and excused herself while she took an Orudis with a glass of water.  She expressed her suspicion that her son's listening to rock music might have led to his drug use, as both she and her husband had consistently spoken out about the perils of addiction.

Her own health, she claimed, was generally good, although she was being treated for depression with Norpramin, having suffered side-effects from Elavil.  She also took medication for hypertension (Hydrocholorathiazide and Norvasc), and menopause (Estrace).  She seemed genuinely concerned about her son's problems and said she would cooperate fully with any suggestions or treatments her son might require.

7 March 1994 Case Note #7 Session 7 - 8pm - Father of PS scheduled an evening appointment due to his having to work.  Father is also very personable and appeared quite distressed at his son's referral.  He was accompanied by his younger son, a thin child who seemed ill at ease but exceptionally well-behaved.

Father claimed his was a very high-stress job, which gave him very little time to spend with the family.  Due to stress, his digestive problems were quite severe and that he took Maalox, Mylanta and Pepto-Bismol for indigestion and was now trying Tagamet and Pepcid.  He was also trying to stop smoking with the help of Habitrol.  Concerned about his high cholesterol count, he was also on Lopid and had cut way down on his fat intake.

To keep healthy, he said he worked out a the gym at least twice a week and whenever possible jogged about three miles before breakfast.

According to the father, the younger brother had been hyperactive, but now that he was on Ritalin seemed to be able to concentrate much better and had his Attention Deficit Disorder well under control.  Although he had been also diagnosed as an asthmatic, using Theo-Dur seemed to be working well for him up to now.  The father also seemed friendly and cooperative and scheduled another appointment for the following month.

20 July 1994 Case Note #19 Session 3:30 - 4:30pm - PS has finally decided to talk, and has overcome much of his former shyness.  However, he still refuses to discuss his drug habit.  He seems to resent his stepfather, claiming that he drinks heavily.  His stepfather is the biological father of his younger brother, but not of his older sister, who was the child of his mother's first marriage.  PS enjoys talking about music and books, but avoids discussing anyone in his family in either a positive or negative manner.

4 August 1994 Case Note #24 Session 3 - 4pm - Stepsister of PS is a very attractive young woman who left home immediately after graduation from high school - much to the disgust, she said, of both her parents and grandmother, who had planned on her attending college.  She works as a checker in a grocery store out-of-state and is engaged to the produce manager.

Said she was sorry she couldn't come to counselling before but had to wait for vacation.  She claimed that there was nothing wrong with PS and that she didn't think he had any problems with drugs.  Confirmed stepfather's heavy drinking.

While she was a teenager, she said she'd also had problems with her stepfather who "came on to her, but never went any further," as he was afraid of her mother finding out.  In high school she suffered with allergies and acne and her parents had taken her to an allergist and a dermatologist.  The dermatologist had made her wash her face with a special soap and refrain from eating nuts, fried food and chocolate.  For her allergies she'd taken "just drugstore stuff mostly, Sudafed, Actifed, and then Seldane and Trinalin" and used Afrid nose drops, but after she started becoming sexually active, the allergies improved along with her skin problems.

10 April 1995 Case Note #52 Session 9 - 10am - Grandmother, who lived out-of-state, was overweight but well groomed and obviously embarrassed and agitated.  She said she wasn't surprised that PS was a drug user, as any child from a broken home, exposed to his mother's wildness and being practically raised by a television set and spoiled rotten could hardly be anything else.  As a stay-at-home Mom, who'd been married only once, she knew that her son (the stepfather of PS) had strong moral values and was a wonderful father.

She said hers was a healthy, God-fearing family and that they'd always enjoyed perfect health.  Her only complaint was chronic constipation and she only resorted to Dulcolax or Doxidan when "natural laxatives" like Metamucil and Fiber-Con didn't work.  She also got occasional headaches, but she seldom took even Tylenol for them, believing that a "good, strong cup of tea" was as good as any medicine...

8 January 1996 Case Note #85 Unscheduled Appointment - Mother of PS came into the office very upset and said that he had been missing since the previous evening but that until he had been gone for 48 hours, the police refused to act.

The night before, the stepfather had had "a little bit too much to drink" and when he told PS to go to bed (it was 9pm), PS refused and an argument developed that ended by "getting physical" and with PS running outside.  He didn't return all night and the mother was frantic.

Advised mother to go home and try to calm down and report PS as missing the following day.

26 March 1996 Case Note #86 Closing comments - PS has not been found and is listed by police as a 17-year-old runaway.  Case 2,486 Henry S___, CLOSED.

Note: Parents of PS are now seeking therapy for the younger brother, who has developed overt anti-social behaviour (occasionally violent in nature).

Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser 17 April 1996

Thirst for Knowledge May Be Opium Craving

The brain's reward for getting a concept is a shot of natural opiates.

Neuroscientists have proposed a simple explanation for the pleasure of grasping a new concept: the brain is getting its fix.  The "click" of comprehension triggers a biochemical cascade that rewards the brain with a shot of natural opium-like substances, said Irving Biederman of the University of Southern California.  He presented his theory in an invited article in American Scientist.  "While you're trying to understand a difficult theorem, it's not fun," said Biederman, professor of neuroscience in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.  "But once you get it, you just feel fabulous."  The brain's craving for a fix motivates humans to maximise the rate at which they absorb knowledge, he said.  "I think we're exquisitely tuned to this as if we're junkies, second by second."

Biederman hypothesised that knowledge addiction has strong evolutionary value because mate selection correlates closely with perceived intelligence.  Only more pressing material needs, such as hunger, can suspend the quest for knowledge, he added.  The same mechanism is involved in the ├Žsthetic experience, Biederman said, providing a neurological explanation for the pleasure we derive from art.  "This account may provide a plausible and very simple mechanism for ├Žsthetic and perceptual and cognitive curiosity."

Biederman's theory was inspired by a widely ignored 25-year-old finding that mu-opioid receptors – binding sites for natural opiates – increase in density along the ventral visual pathway, a part of the brain involved in image recognition and processing.  The receptors are tightly packed in the areas of the pathway linked to comprehension and interpretation of images, but sparse in areas where visual stimuli first hit the cortex.  Biederman's theory holds that the greater the neural activity in the areas rich in opioid receptors, the greater the pleasure.  In a series of functional magnetic resonance imaging trials with human volunteers exposed to a wide variety of images, Biederman's research group found that strongly preferred images prompted the greatest fMRI activity in more complex areas of the ventral visual pathway.  (The data from the studies are being submitted for publication.)

Biederman also found that repeated viewing of an attractive image lessened both the rating of pleasure and the activity in the opioid-rich areas.  In his article, he explains this familiar experience with a neural-network model termed "competitive learning."  In competitive learning (also known as "Neural Darwinism"), the first presentation of an image activates many neurons, some strongly and a greater number only weakly.  With repetition of the image, the connections to the strongly activated neurons grow in strength.  But the strongly activated neurons inhibit their weakly activated neighbours, causing a net reduction in activity.  This reduction in activity, Biederman's research shows, parallels the decline in the pleasure felt during repeated viewing.  (This would be a problem with viewing porn - with habituation, subsequent photos would need to be more and more lewd.)

"One advantage of competitive learning is that the inhibited neurons are now free to code for other stimulus patterns," Biederman writes.  This preference for novel concepts also has evolutionary value, he added.  "The system is essentially designed to maximise the rate at which you acquire new but interpretable [understandable] information.  Once you have acquired the information, you best spend your time learning something else.  There's this incredible selectivity that we show in real time.  Without thinking about it, we pick out experiences that are richly interpretable but novel."

The theory, while currently tested only in the visual system, likely applies to other senses, Biederman said.

Edward Vessel, who was Biederman's graduate student at USC, is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Neural Science at New York University.  Vessel collaborated on the studies and co-authored the American Scientist article.

Source: eurekalert.org 20 June 2006 USC Media Relations (213) 740-2215 University of Southern California

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