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Sunday, November 20, 2011

We Go Together Like...Acid Trips and Day-Glo

After reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe to try to get a good perspective on acid trips and the way acid worked back in the day (from what I have heard, the stuff today is it was then although I've personally never tried any of it...hence the reading material) I realized that tripping on acid surrounded by people covered in Day-Glo paint would probably be pretty fucking cool. (For those of you youngins' that have no idea what Day-Glo paint is, it's glow in the dark paint that hippies like to turn into body art. Don't fret my pets...I'll post pictures) Because of that thought swirling around in my crazy head, the scene I am about to chop up and give you in parts was born. If you like it, thank the Merry Pranksters. They inspired it I guess.

'I pondered it for some time before I came to decision. “Do you have any of Owsley’s shit stuffed in your medicine cabinet?”
     “Do commies shit red? Come on! Of course I do.”
"Now, second question....Do you have any Day-Glo?”
Because I was the jolly good fellow of the day, it was up to everyone else to split up and travel around town in search of the paint and dinner. We all planned to feast, paint each other, and trip as we never had before. 

The type of acid that this batch came from was a sort of acid creeper. For those of you unfamiliar with this typical weed slang, it means that the buzz crept up on us all. We were sitting around, half naked and glowing with neon paint waiting for something to happen when slowly the trip greeted us. Small changes came at first, much like the night before, only this was a higher grade and after that initial slow start it was a fucking roller coaster that slammed through us. When Break on Through began blasting from the speakers, Julie and I were at our first peak. Together we stood and began to dance in the fast paced way that belonged to us. Because we could see the colors moving between our hands, we played with our arms, our fingers, and we laughed as we never had before. All the way through the album we moved our bodies in time with the music, fast and slow, and it seemed like our trip was also moving to the same beat. The End had me dancing as I had watched Morrison do that first night I saw him. I really had no idea what I was doing, only that I was following the tune and a memory of a man whose true nature I saw but once. At the end, when the music slowed and prepared to come to an end, I dropped as Morrison had feeling that I was exhausted.

The music had stopped and another peak was coming. I sat up knowing that I really wanted this moment to last forever. “I need a clock, Jack. Do you have one?”
“Yeah, in my room. There’s a clock on the stand, ‘member?”
     I wanted to stop time and there was only one way I could think to do it. I rushed into Jack’s room with a speed I thought I could see and when I came out I called everyone to follow me into the kitchen.  “Is everyone having a good trip?” There was consent all around. “Want this to last forever?” No one said no so I assumed it was a yes all around. “Then let’s just fucking freeze time!” And with that I opened the door of the freezer and I placed the clock inside, honestly believing at that moment that something so impossible could be achieved by an act so small.'
For those of you who are wondering....she absolutely stopped time. Of course it worked. Liz is still in Jack's apartment frozen to that spot 43 years later. What a trip. Ok, that's enough for videos and pictures of acid tripping Day-Glo fun. Yay!
A Picture of Different Shades of Dayglo:

Beware the Men in Shiny Shoes

First, I'm cutting back a little on the scenes that I share, leaving out most of the detail. Don't look at me like that. I'm not cutting them out all together...I am simply skimping on them a bit because I do kind of have an agenda with this blog and that agenda does involve boosting sales...sales that will not be boosted if I give everything away. For this particular post, I am giving you nothing from the book. I am just discussing an issue. It's an issue that appears in the book on more than one occasion and it was one that was very real under the administrations of both Johnson and Nixon, especially when Hoover was head of the FBI. In California it was even more pronounced because Reagan fully supported it and encouraged it as governor. This was the issue of activists (anti-war and civil rights activists especially), musicians, artists, writers, and others who spoke out against the government being followed by federal agents, even having their homes and phones bugged. Now, thanks to files that have been shared on the internet and on television, there is no way to deny that this occurred. John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, Abbie Hoffman, and many others all had their files in the FBI as agents kept tabs on what they were up to as much as possible. Others who were targeted were simply familiar faces at protests, people who wrote "anti-establishment" articles, that sort of thing. At the time people who thought they were being followed were usually treated like they were crazy, even by their friends. Until it happened to their friends too. Maybe this is where the stereotype of the paranoid hippie came from? lol Whatever the case, there were many many files filled with years of information compiled and today most of it is open to public view showing that sometimes it's not paranoia...because the man really is out to get you. :)
                                      Lennon's File Being Opened-1983
The Website Dedicated to Lennon's Files:
Abbie Hoffman talking about Lennon's FBI Troubles:

The FBI Site Where You can Access Abbie's FBI File:
Martin Luther King Jr.'s File:
These are just a few examples of people the FBI harassed under Johnson and Nixon. As far back as the '50's Hoover was following rock stars. Let's not forget that he once tailed Elvis. Bottom line? If you were in a movement in the '60's...there may be a file in Washington with your name on it. Stranger things have happened indeed. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Subject of Unnecessary Force and Brutality in Vietnam

Again, I am saying my thing before I post this scene to try to decrease the chances of anyone taking the scene itself or the fact that I wrote it at all in the wrong way. When guys started coming home from Nam stories started circulating about instances where villages full of civilians were burned to the ground, all of the residents slaughtered, and all for nothing. There were hearings on war crimes galore throughout the end of the war. And then, when the story finally broke about the massacre in My Lai long after it took place and the attempted cover up of it was reveled, it seemed to make many wonder what else had been swept under the rug during the course of the war. Here is how I feel about it. I believe there probably were times when villages were burned and civilians were killed. It was a WAR. I think it would be impossible to fight a war without civilian casualties. I think that the most common reason for this was probably the fact that in Vietnam most of the time it was hard as hell to discover who were your allies and who would blow your fucking head off first chance they got. If the soldiers mistook an enemy for a friend, they were killed or wounded. If they mistook a friend for an enemy, civilians died. The price for being wrong is usually human life one way or the other in war. However, just like any other position with power, I am sure there were probably a small number of cases where the guy in charge was sadistic and he killed in cold blood, ordering his men to do the same, or he just didn't give a shit and he killed in cold blood ordering his men to do the same. Any position with power can attract a sociopath so imagine how much sweeter it could be for someone who is truly screwed up if that position gives you power over life and death. Every war has probably seen its share of men in command like that and every war to come will probably be no different. This is, in my opinion, the exception, though...not the rule. In Castles Made of Sand, when Eric came home he was a total wreck. Mentally and emotionally, the war damaged him in a life altering way. Giving him a crazy platoon leader seemed to be a good explanation for why Eric was messed up beyond the "norm". The reason behind this scene is as simple as that. It isn't because I think this sort of thing was common in the war. It was simply an explanation for my character's state of mind.

     'For a moment we sat in silence just looking at one another. I tried to picture the seventeen year old boy who only wore black turtle necks and black boots, the boy who wore glasses he didn’t need because he thought he looked sophisticated with them. He was gone. He was as long gone as the eighteen year old girl who left Ohio a scared cat in an old Chevy. In their places sat the soldier and the hippie. Both of us had gotten more than we bargained for out of life and both of us were changed by what we saw. “What were you thinking of, Eric? Tonight, I mean. Do you remember?”
     I felt his grip on my hand tighten as if to keep him to the spot. “Ah, you don’t want to hear that shit, cuz.” He replied with a grimace.
     “Yeah I do.” When he said nothing I added softly, “What happened over there, whatever you had to do, it was not your fault! You did what you were told to do by the government that sent you there! No matter how many lives you think you took, you are not a murderer! You, and all of the guys that were with you, are victims the same as those you were ordered to kill. All of you were used and all of you have suffered so much. I am not going to judge you no matter what you tell me.”
     Always the thoughtful one, Eric seemed to ponder this. Sighing, he said, “There was this village by the Ma Cong River that was full of civilians. One day…I don’t know, the commanders got orders to raid this place. All of us were told that the VC had been using the village as a hide out, that they were using the people as spies. We were told as soon as we got there to kill everyone. Men, women, babies, it didn’t fucking matter. I couldn’t do it, Lizzy. There was this young girl, about fifteen or so, holding a new baby in her arms and she was pleading with me not to spare her but to spare her child. I could not do what they told me to do.”
     “So what happened?” I asked when Eric paused.
     “My commander came over and he blew her fucking head off. Then he picked up that baby, that little baby, and he just snapped his little neck like it wasn’t shit to him. The mother fucker put me through hell after that day and from then on out I did whatever he fucking told me to do!”
     Eric looked drained suddenly, like he needed peace, sleep, those things he couldn’t find. “It wasn’t your fault!” I whispered, standing up and bending down to kiss the top of his head. “You need to go back in there with Julie and go to bed and dream pleasant dreams. Don’t let what happened over there haunt you because you are not to blame.”
     He stood up, apparently intent on taking my advice. “Thanks, cuz.”
     “For what?” I asked, switching off the light. Ross slept soundly, oblivious to the fear that had just hung over the living room.
     “For everything you said to me. You are the first person since I came home that has said I’m not to blame and I really appreciate it. I would also appreciate it if we could keep this between us for a while. I don’t want to freak Julie out and I am going to tell her…just not yet.”
     “You need to tell her soon. She’ll understand, Eric. She’s loved you for a long time.” I let that observation slip out without thinking but his face showed no hint of surprise. “But when she finds out it won’t be from me.”
     We were standing in the hallway, him at Julie’s door and me at mine. “Thanks. And, uh, I love you, long hair.” He chuckled.
     “I love you too, solider boy. Now go and get some sleep.”'
Perhaps the most talked about example of such hearings and testimony on this was that of John Kerry talking about what happened at My Lai:
A short video just giving an overview:
And again, I want to restate the fact that what happened at My Lai and in similar cases was not typical, it wasn't how things occurred on a daily basis, and in my opinion, instances like this should in no way have been blamed on the men taking orders but rather on those who are giving the orders. In the military, soldiers are taught discipline and to take orders without question. Our military depends on this. The men who were doing what they were trained to do were never the guilty ones in my book.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and War Flashbacks

Before I share this scene (which I have actually split up into two parts on the blog to give attention to both of the major issues covered in it)I want to make it perfectly clear that all I know about PTSD and flashbacks is what I have read and what I have been told. I have a friend who did three tours in Vietnam and despite the years, as late as six years ago he was still having a flashback occasionally. Sometimes they happened if he was drinking, sometimes something would trigger it around him, sometimes it just happened...or so he told me. And when he had one he was in an entirely different world, completely mentally gone from the here and now. As a psych student I have often read about PTSD and I did research on it for this book because I wrote about it before I started college. I know that not all examples of the disorder or its effects are as dramatic as the scene I wrote. However, some are, especially with veterans. On a personal note, I think it is terribly unfair that this happens. I think it is terrible that a person should have to carry the horrors of war with them for the rest of their lives, and I do believe that even if a person does not come home from was with PTSD the horrors of war are still remembered for life. I've even read cases of people with conditions like Alzheimers who, when they are not lucid, go back to their time in the military. Sometimes PTSD can be overcome with enough therapy and medication but the more extreme the case, the fewer the chances of that. It makes respecting our men and women in the military and our veterans of war seem even more important, doesn't it?

    'Getting out of bed I rushed into the living room where I found Eric crouched on the floor. The words that were coming from him were not English. He was giving commands to people on the other side of the world in their native tongue. For a moment I was frozen to the spot. I wasn’t sure what he would do if I came towards him but when he let out a piteous cry I knew I had to do something. “Eric? Eric?” I called his name but received no response. Quickly I moved to switch on the lamp beside of the sofa. Eric had sat down and his eyes were open but it was obvious that his mind was not in that room.
     Still unsure of what to do I moved cautiously to sit in front of him so we were face to face and only about a foot apart. When I looked at him, this cousin of mine who had once been afraid to leave the street he lived on, he was crying. He made no sounds, his eyes never blinked. There was just a silent stream of tears coming from him. Before I could help myself my own tears welled up once more as I sat there trying to think of a way to bring him out of this trance he was in without risking the safety of either of us in the process. It hit me suddenly. Elvis. Eric had loved Elvis so much when we were kids. I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You was his favorite tune. It was the one he sang to Julie after our senior prom. I began to sing the first verse softly, unsure of what I was doing. Could it work? By the time I got to the chorus I knew Eric was back. His mind had returned to where he was sitting. As soon as he looked at me I grabbed him and held him tight. I felt like his mother as I wept with my cousin in my arms but I couldn’t stop myself. This is why they sent him out here to me, I thought, because they couldn’t deal with what he had gone through...or what he was still going through.
     When I let go of him he looked stunned. He looked around him for a moment as if he was taking in his surroundings and then he spotted his pack of Camels on the coffee table and slowly he moved to get them. Sitting down again he took one out and offered one to me, lighting them both as if he were on auto pilot. “That was a bad one. I’ve never sleep walked before.” He said softly, more to himself than to me.
     “What, a dream?” I questioned.
     Eric looked at me with the strangest expression. “No, cuz, more like a memory. A lot of us guys are coming back and having these…I don’t know what you would call them…episodes? Anyway, the doctor mom took me to said it’s like a stress syndrome or something. It’s like I go back in my mind to the jungles, ya know, the war. Our minds just can’t let that shit go. Everything we had to do, everything that was done to us, everything we saw in that goddamned hell hole…it won’t let us go. The doc gave me some pills. I took one on the plane ride. He said they would help but so far…” He shrugged. “No one can explain why it’s happening to us and so far no one has been able to make it stop. I guess we’re all just meant to keep fighting until we get fed up and put fucking bullets in our brains!”
     “Don’t talk like that!” I demanded a chill running up my spine at the thought. “Maybe you are just not going to the right kind of doctor. You need a doctor for your mind, someone you can talk to that will have answers, you know?”
      “Like an analyst?” Eric questioned with a chuckle. “You think the jungle made me crazy, cuz?”
     “No, that’s not what I’m…” I stopped when I saw he was laughing at me. “What?”
     “You didn’t used to be so damned uptight, that’s all.” Eric took my hand in his and I realized he was shaking. What had that place done to him, to them all? “I’ll be alright. If I lived through Nam I’ll make it through the memories.”'
 Here is an article giving an overview of PTSD taken from
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: An Overview
Matthew J. Friedman, MD, PhD

A brief history of the PTSD diagnosis

The risk of exposure to trauma has been a part of the human condition since we evolved as a species. Attacks by saber tooth tigers or twenty-first century terrorists have probably produced similar psychological sequelae in the survivors of such violence. Shakespeare's Henry IV appears to meet many, if not all, of the diagnostic criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as have other heroes and heroines throughout the world's literature. The history of the development of the PTSD concept is described by Trimble (1).
In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association added PTSD to the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) nosologic classification scheme. Although controversial when first introduced, the PTSD diagnosis has filled an important gap in psychiatric theory and practice. From an historical perspective, the significant change ushered in by the PTSD concept was the stipulation that the etiological agent was outside the individual (i.e., a traumatic event) rather than an inherent individual weakness (i.e., a traumatic neurosis). The key to understanding the scientific basis and clinical expression of PTSD is the concept of "trauma."
In its initial DSM-III formulation, a traumatic event was conceptualized as a catastrophic stressor that was outside the range of usual human experience. The framers of the original PTSD diagnosis had in mind events such as war, torture, rape, the Nazi Holocaust, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, natural disasters (such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and volcano eruptions), and human-made disasters (such as factory explosions, airplane crashes, and automobile accidents). They considered traumatic events to be clearly different from the very painful stressors that constitute the normal vicissitudes of life such as divorce, failure, rejection, serious illness, financial reverses, and the like. (By this logic, adverse psychological responses to such "ordinary stressors" would, in DSM-III terms, be characterized as Adjustment Disorders rather than PTSD.) This dichotomization between traumatic and other stressors was based on the assumption that, although most individuals have the ability to cope with ordinary stress, their adaptive capacities are likely to be overwhelmed when confronted by a traumatic stressor.
PTSD is unique among psychiatric diagnoses because of the great importance placed upon the etiological agent, the traumatic stressor. In fact, one cannot make a PTSD diagnosis unless the patient has actually met the "stressor criterion," which means that he or she has been exposed to an historical event that is considered traumatic. Clinical experience with the PTSD diagnosis has shown, however, that there are individual differences regarding the capacity to cope with catastrophic stress. Therefore, while some people exposed to traumatic events do not develop PTSD, others go on to develop the full-blown syndrome. Such observations have prompted the recognition that trauma, like pain, is not an external phenomenon that can be completely objectified. Like pain, the traumatic experience is filtered through cognitive and emotional processes before it can be appraised as an extreme threat. Because of individual differences in this appraisal process, different people appear to have different trauma thresholds, some more protected from and some more vulnerable to developing clinical symptoms after exposure to extremely stressful situations. Although there is currently a renewed interest in subjective aspects of traumatic exposure, it must be emphasized that events such as rape, torture, genocide, and severe war zone stress are experienced as traumatic events by nearly everyone.
The DSM-III diagnostic criteria for PTSD were revised in DSM-III-R (1987), DSM-IV (1994), and DSM-IV-TR (2000). A very similar syndrome is classified in ICD-10 (The ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders: Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines). Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event and symptoms from each of three symptom clusters: intrusive recollections, avoidant/numbing symptoms, and hyper-arousal symptoms. A fifth criterion concerns duration of symptoms. One important finding, which was not apparent when PTSD was first proposed as a diagnosis in 1980, is that it is relatively common. Recent data from the National Comorbidity Survey indicates PTSD prevalence rates are 5% and 10% respectively among American men and women (2). Rates of PTSD are much higher in postconflict settings such as Algeria (37%), Cambodia (28%), Ethiopia (16%), and Gaza (18%) (3).

Criteria for a PTSD diagnosis

As noted above, the "A" stressor criterion specifies that a person has been exposed to a catastrophic event involving actual or threatened death or injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of him/herself or others. During this traumatic exposure, the survivor's subjective response was marked by intense fear, helplessness, or horror.
The "B", or intrusive recollection, criterion includes symptoms that are perhaps the most distinctive and readily identifiable symptoms of PTSD. For individuals with PTSD, the traumatic event remains, sometimes for decades or a lifetime, a dominating psychological experience that retains its power to evoke panic, terror, dread, grief, or despair. These emotions manifest in daytime fantasies, traumatic nightmares, and psychotic reenactments known as PTSD flashbacks. Furthermore, trauma-related stimuli that trigger recollections of the original event have the power to evoke mental images, emotional responses, and psychological reactions associated with the trauma. Researchers can use this phenomenon to reproduce PTSD symptoms in the laboratory by exposing affected individuals to auditory or visual trauma-related stimuli (4).
The "C", or avoidant/numbing, criterion consists of symptoms that reflect behavioral, cognitive, or emotional strategies PTSD patients use in an attempt to reduce the likelihood that they will expose themselves to trauma-related stimuli. PTSD patients also use these strategies in an attempt to minimize the intensity of their psychological response if they are exposed to such stimuli. Behavioral strategies include avoiding any situation in which they perceive a risk of confronting trauma-related stimuli. In its extreme manifestation, avoidant behavior may superficially resemble agoraphobia because the PTSD individual is afraid to leave the house for fear of confronting reminders of the traumatic event(s). Dissociation and psychogenic amnesia are included among the avoidant/numbing symptoms and involve the individuals cutting off the conscious experience of trauma-based memories and feelings. Finally, since individuals with PTSD cannot tolerate strong emotions, especially those associated with the traumatic experience, they separate the cognitive from the emotional aspects of psychological experience and perceive only the former. Such "psychic numbing" is an emotional anesthesia that makes it extremely difficult for people with PTSD to participate in meaningful interpersonal relationships.
Symptoms included in the "D", or hyper-arousal, criterion most closely resemble those seen in panic and generalized anxiety disorders. While symptoms such as insomnia and irritability are generic anxiety symptoms, hyper-vigilance and startle are more characteristic of PTSD. The hyper-vigilance in PTSD may sometimes become so intense as to appear like frank paranoia. The startle response has a unique neurobiological substrate and may actually be the most pathognomonic PTSD symptom.
The "E", or duration, criterion specifies how long symptoms must persist in order to qualify for the (chronic or delayed) PTSD diagnosis. In DSM-III, the mandatory duration was six months. In DSM-III-R, the duration was shortened to one month, which it has remained.
The "F", or functional significance, criterion specifies that the survivor must experience significant social, occupational, or other distress as a result of these symptoms.

Assessing PTSD

Since 1980, there has been a great deal of attention devoted to the development of instruments for assessing PTSD. Keane and associates (4), working with Vietnam war-zone Veterans, have developed both psychometric and psychophysiologic assessment techniques that have proven to be both valid and reliable. Other investigators have modified such assessment instruments and used them with natural disaster survivors, rape/incest survivors, and other traumatized individuals. These assessment techniques have been used in the epidemiological studies mentioned above and in other research protocols.
Neurobiological research indicates that PTSD may be associated with stable neurobiological alterations in both the central and autonomic nervous systems. Psychophysiological alterations associated with PTSD include hyper-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system, increased sensitivity and augmentation of the acoustic-startle eye blink reflex, and sleep abnormalities. Neuropharmacologic and neuroendocrine abnormalities have been detected in most brain mechanisms that have evolved for coping, adaptation, and preservation of the species. These include the noradrenergic, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical, serotonergic, glutamatergic, thyroid, endogenous opioid, and other systems. Structural brain imaging suggests reduced volume of the hippocampus and anterior cingulated. Functional brain imaging suggests excessive amygdala activity and reduced activation of the prefrontal cortex. This information is reviewed extensively elsewhere (5).
Longitudinal research has shown that PTSD can become a chronic psychiatric disorder and can persist for decades and sometimes for a lifetime. Patients with chronic PTSD often exhibit a longitudinal course marked by remissions and relapses. There is also a delayed variant of PTSD in which individuals exposed to a traumatic event do not exhibit the PTSD syndrome until months or years afterward. Usually, the immediate precipitant is a situation that resembles the original trauma in a significant way (for example, a war Veteran whose child is deployed to a war zone or a rape survivor who is sexually harassed or assaulted years later).
If an individual meets diagnostic criteria for PTSD, it is likely that he or she will meet DSM-IV-TR criteria for one or more additional diagnoses (6-7). Most often, these comorbid diagnoses include major affective disorders, dysthymia, alcohol or substance abuse disorders, anxiety disorders, or personality disorders. There is a legitimate question whether the high rate of diagnostic comorbidity seen with PTSD is an artifact of our current decision-making rules for the PTSD diagnosis since there are not exclusionary criteria in DSM-III-R. In any case, high rates of comorbidity complicate treatment decisions concerning patients with PTSD since the clinician must decide whether to treat the comorbid disorders concurrently or sequentially.
Although PTSD continues to be classified as an Anxiety Disorder, areas of disagreement about its nosology and phenomenology remain. Questions about the syndrome itself include: what is the clinical course of untreated PTSD; are there different subtypes of PTSD; what is the distinction between traumatic simple phobia and PTSD; and what is the clinical phenomenology of prolonged and repeated trauma? With regard to the latter, Herman (8) has argued that the current PTSD formulation fails to characterize the major symptoms of PTSD commonly seen in victims of prolonged, repeated interpersonal violence such as domestic or sexual abuse and political torture. She has proposed an alternative diagnostic formulation that emphasizes multiple symptoms, excessive somatization, dissociation, changes in affect, pathological changes in relationships, and pathological changes in identity.
PTSD has also been criticized from the perspective of cross-cultural psychology and medical anthropology, especially with respect to refugees, asylum seekers, and political torture victims from non-Western regions. Clinicians and researchers working with such survivors argue that since PTSD has usually been diagnosed by clinicians from Western industrialized nations working with patients from a similar background, the diagnosis does not accurately reflect the clinical picture of traumatized individuals from non-Western traditional societies and cultures. Major gaps remain in our understanding of the effects of ethnicity and culture on the clinical phenomenology of posttraumatic syndromes. We have only just begun to apply vigorous ethnocultural research strategies to delineate possible differences between Western and non-Western societies regarding the psychological impact of traumatic exposure and the clinical manifestations of such exposure (9).

Treatment for PTSD

The many therapeutic approaches offered to PTSD patients are presented in Foa, Keane, Friedman and Cohen's (10) comprehensive book on treatment. The most successful interventions are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication. Excellent results have been obtained with some CBT combinations of exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring, especially with female victims of childhood or adult sexual trauma. Sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil) are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) that are the first medications to have received FDA approval as indicated treatments for PTSD. Success has also been reported with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), although rigorous scientific data are lacking and it is unclear whether this approach is as effective as CBT.
A frequent therapeutic option for mildly to moderately affected PTSD patients is group therapy, although empirical support for this is sparse. In such a setting, the PTSD patient can discuss traumatic memories, PTSD symptoms, and functional deficits with others who have had similar experiences. This approach has been most successful with war Veterans, rape/incest victims, and natural disaster survivors. It is important that therapeutic goals be realistic because, in some cases, PTSD is a chronic and severely debilitating psychiatric disorder that is refractory to current available treatments. The hope remains, however, that our growing knowledge about PTSD will enable us to design interventions that are more effective for all patients afflicted with this disorder.
There is great interest in rapid interventions for acutely traumatized individuals, especially with respect to civilian disasters, military deployments, and emergency personnel (medical personnel, police, and firefighters). This has become a major policy and public health issue since the massive traumatization caused by the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami, the Hatian eathquake, and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, there is controversy about which interventions work best during the immediate aftermath of a trauma. Research on critical incident stress debriefing (CISD), an intervention used widely, has brought disappointing results with respect to its efficacy to attenuate posttraumatic distress or to forestall the later development of PTSD. The National Center for PTSD and the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress have developed an alternative early intervention,Psychological First Aid, that is available online. Promising results have also been shown with brief cognitive-behavioral therapy.
And if you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic event and you think you may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the link I provided with the article appears to be a pretty solid resource for the basic information on the disorder so if you would like to do some research, it seems like a good place to start. But most importantly, if you have the symptoms, seek help. 

The Jefferson Airplane-Comin' Back to Me

'She practically tossed the weed at him as Eric played Comin’ Back to Me again. He had a strange look on his face, like he was far away. I had always thought of that song as one of the band’s best tunes. It was powerful. But I wasn’t sure his mood had anything to do with the song. As the second joint began to be passed he loosened up again, joking and laughing with the rest of us. Still, I had an uneasy feeling.'
I heard this song for the first time (in this life anyway) in the movie The 60's. It appears in a scene toward the end of the film and it is just a tiny taste of the song but it was enough to have me looking for the artist and the title for five years. When I finally found it, I was ecstatic and from the first time I heard it until now it has remained one of my favorite tunes by the Airplane. There is something about it that sucks me in. I cannot listen to it just once. The music is melancholy, powerful, the lyrics are like poetry and I had to pay tribute to it by putting it in the book. I think it might appear more than once but this is the first mention of it. And yes, my characters are getting stoned on weed to the song. It was part of their scene and I would have been a piss poor writer if I had written a book about hippies that never did drugs in California in the '60's. Not only that...this song is good to toke up to or at least I thought so in my younger years. :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Disrespect of Men Coming Home From Vietnam

There has been a misconception over the years that all hippies hated the troops in Vietnam and the men who returned from the war. This is far from true. However, there is no denying that there were some who took the desires of the anti-war movement, the message of peace, and turned it into a reason to verbally and physically assault men in uniform in airports, on the street, etc. In my opinion, it was one of the blackest stains on the movement. One of my fears as I have supported anti-war protests in my own generation is that this disgusting trend would be repeated. The worst part of all is that it wasn't just a few ignorant youngsters that were guilty of mistreating the vets from Vietnam. The government, their families, and those who had supported the war seemed to want to sweep these warriors under the rug when the war ended, treating them like bad reminders of a hard time. It has long been my opinion that the brave men and women involved in the Vietnam War got a raw fucking deal all the way around and that the only way it could be worse is if we ever allowed this to happen again to those who risked their lives and were fortunate enough to come back home. In this scene from Castles Made of Sand, Liz, Brian, Ross, and Julie go to the airport to pick up Liz's younger cousin Eric who was in Nam from Dec. 1965-Dec. 1967. It is his first trip to California and he comes in from Ohio wearing his uniform which causes a disturbance that leads to a spat between Liz, a girl, and airport security:

'On February eighth my beloved cousin arrived from Ohio and all of us turned up to get him. That was the day that my eyes were opened to a new and disgustingly disrespectful trend that had begun around the country. Eric came off the plane in uniform, no doubt showing off for his two favorite girls, and I heard a girl shout, “Baby killer!”
     I spun around, intent on attack. Three soldiers walked beside of Eric and they were all chatting as they came towards us. I hoped he hadn’t heard the words. Just as the guys reached us, the girl shouted the words again and then she came up to one of the guys at Eric’s side and she actually spit on him. That was it. I rushed at the girl while security rushed at me. I didn’t give a damn. I yanked the little bitch by her hair and shouted, “Who the fuck do you think you are? You want to shout at someone, you little cunt, go to Washington! Take the fight where it belongs and leave these men the hell alone!”
     I released her hard as a guard grabbed me and I was satisfied to hear her head make contact with the marble floor. “Calm down, Miss, or I’ll have to call the cops. Just calm down.” The guard said softly as he held my arms.
     “I’m as calm as I am going to get so please get the hell off of me!” I shouted.
     Brian had come over and he was talking to the guard, explaining why we were at the airport and what the girl had said. The guard let me go but then he said something that almost landed me in cuffs. He looked at the girl with disdain and proclaimed, “That’s the way these damned hippie scum are, man! Commie scum! They talk to war heroes like shit and what do they do? Shoot up heroin and go around fucking everything, fucking with the morality of this nation. Fuck them!”
     “Do you have eyes?” I questioned. Brian was already pulling me away but I wasn’t having it. I had had enough. “Are you really going to look at me and talk about hippies? I write for the largest hippie paper in the nation, asshole! Before you talk shit about all of us, think about this. Not all security guards are ignorant pricks just because you are. Same thing goes with us, pal!”'
Now, there is debate even today about whether or not there was in fact mistreatment of soldiers coming home. My own personal opinion on it is that guys were probably mistreated, called names, and everything by people but those people were not actually part of the anti-war movement. They were fools who thought that they were apart of the scene without knowing what the hell the whole point was. However, whether they were or were not in the movement, I do not believe that the stories of mistreatment were made up but here is an article I found on and it does claim that this is an example of an urban myth (Again, this DOES NOT reflect my own opinion on the matter!!!!) :
Posted on Wed Nov 10 2004 18:35:05 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time) by mykdsmom
WINSTON-SALEM -- Last week voters went to the polls to select a vision for the future. Now Americans must find a way forward together. This week, as we honor service and sacrifice on Veterans Day, an image from this political season must be put to rest.
The presidential campaign featured the resurgence of a myth from the early 1990s. That myth is that soldiers returning from Vietnam were spit upon by citizens or war protesters. That claim has been used to turn honest differences of opinion about the war into toxic indictments.
As a scholar of urban legends I am usually involved with accounts of vanishing hitchhikers and involuntary kidney donors. These stories are folklore that harmlessly reveals the public imagination. However, accounts of citizens spitting on returning soldiers -- any nation's soldiers -- are not harmless stories. These tales evoke an emotional firestorm.
I have studied urban legends for nearly 20 years and have been certified as an expert on the subject in the federal courts. Nonetheless, it dawned on me only recently that the spitting story was a rumor that has grown into an urban legend. I never wanted to believe the story but I was afraid to investigate it for fear that it could be true.
Why could I not identify this fiction sooner? The power of the story and the passion of its advocates offer a powerful alchemy of guilt and fear -- emotions not associated with clearheadedness.
Labeling the spitting story an urban legend does not mean that something of this sort did not happen to someone somewhere. You cannot prove the negative -- that something never happened. However, most accounts of spitting emerged in the mid-1980s only after a newspaper columnist asked his readers who were Vietnam vets if they had been spit upon after the war (an odd and leading question to ask a decade after the war's end). The framing of the question seemed to beg for an affirmative answer.
• • •
In 1998 sociologist and Vietnam veteran Jerry Lembcke published "The Spitting Image: Myth, Media and the Legacy of Viet Nam." He recounts a study of 495 news stories on returning veterans published from 1965 to 1971. That study shows only a handful (32) of instances were presented as in any way antagonistic to the soldiers. There were no instances of spitting on soldiers; what spitting was reported was done by citizens expressing displeasure with protesters.
Opinion polls of the time show no animosity between soldiers and opponents of the war. Only 3 percent of returning soldiers recounted any unfriendly experiences upon their return.
So records from that era offer no support for the spitting stories. Lembcke's research does show that similar spitting rumors arose in Germany after World War I and in France after its Indochina war. One of the persistent markers of urban legends is the re-emergence of certain themes across time and space.
There is also a common-sense method for debunking this urban legend. One frequent test is the story's plausibility: how likely is it that the incident could have happened as described? Do we really believe that a "dirty hippie" would spit upon a fit and trained soldier? If such a confrontation had occurred, would that combat-hardened soldier have just ignored the insult? Would there not be pictures, arrest reports, a trial record or a coroner's report after such an event? Years of research have produced no such records.
Lembcke underscores the enduring significance of the spitting story for this Veterans Day. He observes that as a society we are what we remember. The meaning of Vietnam and any other war is not static but is created through the stories we tell one another. To reinforce the principle that policy disagreements are not personal vendettas we must put this story to rest.
Our first step forward is to recognize that we are not a society that disrespects the sacrifices of our servicemembers. We should ignore anyone who tries to tell us otherwise. Whatever our aspirations for America, those hopes must begin with a clear awareness of who we are not.
(John Llewellyn is an associate professor of communication at Wake Forest University.)
And this was one of the comments attached:
To: mykdsmom; kdf1; AMERIKA; Lancey Howard; MudPuppy; SMEDLEYBUTLER; opbuzz; Snow Bunny; gitmogrunt; ...
The profanities that I am ready to expel are enormous.

Just who did this person speak to??

I was spit upon, I had people throw beer bottles at me from their cars, and I heard Baby Killer many times, and I graduated Parris Island in 1977...5 years after combat ended in Vietnam!

This woman needs to be Freeped and HOW!!
2 posted on Wed Nov 10 2004 18:38:22 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time) by RaceBannon (Arab Media pulled out of Fallujah; Could we get the MSM to pull out of America??)

I have heard vets on television that have said that they feel the protests hurt the war by decreasing support and this may be true. I do not believe that there was only a very small percentage of vets that disagreed with protesters. I believe there were probably quite a few. However, relations were not completely strained between the two and in fact many men who came home from the war joined the anti-war movement. But whether they agreed with the movement or whether they were adamant in their disagreement, these men and women who suffered and were not honored as the warriors from battles past in America had been deserve our utmost respect and a huge apology from anyone who ever refused to give it!

 At the end of the day, it is always important to remember...We're not against the soldiers, we're against the war!

The Infamous Pamela Susan Courson Morrison

Jim Morrison was one of the most infamous rock stars of the 1960's but, as they say, behind every good man is a woman willing to kick his ass (Sure that's how that goes...) and when Jim laid eyes on the beautiful Pam Courson in 1965, he finally met his match. From that first meeting until Jim's death in 1971, the pair had one of the most tumultuous relationships in rock n' roll history, filled with madness, drugs, fights, and plenty of love. Pam was possibly one of the most hated women in Los Angeles during the late '60's because of her relationship with Jim and the fact that he may have slept around but no matter how many women he took to bed or how many fights the two had, he always came home to her eventually. After her own death in 1974 (also at the age of 27) rumors swirled that she killed Jim, that he took her to Paris to leave her, that he was writing his other women while they were in Europe but there is no proof that any of this is more than crap made up by women that wanted what Pam had. Although she doesn't appear in Castles nearly as much as her infamous lover, she is there and this is the reader's first encounter with Jim's fiery little redhead when she comes to get him from Liz's where he stayed after she kicked him out of their house for the night: 

'Jim called Pam around four o’ clock and she gave him permission to come home saying she would come and get him. I listened to him recite my address and I listened to Janis whisper, “Big fucking rock star, huh? He’s gotta call mama before he can even set foot in that house he pays for. Just goes to show ya. All the smart women know how to work their men. Don’t ever let them think that they are in charge, ya know?”
     Julie giggled and I pondered the words. Maybe she was on to something. Ross and Brian came in just before Pam pulled up outside. We had the front door open because the guys were carting in groceries that they had picked up so Pam just came right into the house. I had never seen her before and that first glimpse of her was a powerful one. She was tiny, weighing maybe ninety pounds soaking wet and no taller than a piss ant. But her deep green eyes were ablaze and her hair, bold red and hanging down her back, helped give her the impression of a siren. “My god.” I said to Jim. “Your girl’s fucking beautiful!”
     “Aint she?” He said with a smile. “And she’s mean as a damned rattle snake!”
      “I’m standing right here, asshole!” Pam shouted. “You are so goddamned lucky that I’m letting you come home, do you know that? Don’t piss me off or…” Brian, who was trying to get past her with an arm full of paper bags, broke in her tirade with a soft murmur of excuse me and she rounded on him like a boxer. “And who the fuck are you?”
     “That’s my old man. Sorry, we haven’t been introduced. I’m…”
     “Yeah, I know who you are.” She barked as she sized up Brian in a way that had Jim and me looking at one another. Finally she turned toward us once more and asked casually, “So can I borrow your old man like you’ve been borrowing mine or are you another one of L.A.’s selfish sluts?”
     Her words caused quite a sensation. Brian practically  threw the bags on the floor to get in her face, Janis was shouting something about Morrison, crabs, and all of Laurel Canyon, Julie was up in a flash ready to scrap and Jim and Ross were laughing. Finally Brian said something that pushed Pam to the edge of her anger and the slap that she delivered the side of face silenced everyone at once. I took a deep breath to control the instinct to pound on her. I knew what she was going through. Here she was picking up the man she loved from another woman’s house and with his reputation it wasn’t hard to see how she came by her conclusion that Jim and I were more than friends. “Pam, if you don’t mind, I would like to talk to you alone.” I said, walking past her onto the small concrete slab that served as our porch. She followed wordlessly.
     “Your old man doesn’t know shit about me! How dare he talk to me like that?” She seethed, her cheeks rose red as she sat next to me.
     “Well, you did call me a slut.” I said with a smile. “You’ve got this all wrong, honey. I’m not balling Jim. I’ve got one man in my life and he’s the guy you tried to lay out. I like Jim as a musician and I like Jim as a friend but that’s where it ends. You never have to worry about him fucking around if he’s here because I’m your safest bet in this town.”
     Her sea foam eyes bore into me and then she nodded. “I’m sorry about all of this. It’s just that...sometimes he puts me through shit and I’ve been up all damned night wondering if he’d call, wondering if he was alright. I’ll have to think of something good to get him back for this! Anyway, I just....I’m sorry. Tell your old man I’m sorry for slapping him around. He’s got a big mouth.” She said with a smile. Yes, I thought, this was the perfect woman for the mad man on my sofa. She had that same wild look in her eyes, that same charming smile that could make her madness a memory as soon as it had passed. Despite her tiny frame and her mouse like voice she had one hell of a big spirit. That much was obvious. “Could you tell Jim to come out, please? I just want to go to sleep. It’s been such a long day.”
     I stood up and extended my hand. She looked at it for a moment before she took it in a firm shake. “It was really nice to finally meet you. If you ever need a place to bring Jim’s ass you know where I live. I get where you’re coming from, Pam, and I admire you.”
     “Yeah.” She said with a sweet laugh. “Sometimes it takes balls to be Mrs. Jim Morrison.” '
Jim often called Pam his muse and there were many songs and pieces of poetry that she inspired with her famous man. One example was The Door's song Love Street which was written by Jim about Pam and their home in Laurel Canyon:
My Wild Love is another ode to Pam:
An interview with Jim and Pam:
Information about Pam from
Birth: Dec. 22, 1946
Siskiyou County
Death: Apr. 25, 1974
Los Angeles County

Longtime girlfriend and alleged wife of singer Jim Morrison (of the Doors). Pamela Susan Courson was born December 22, 1946, in Weed California. She met Jim Morrison when she was 19 while an art student at Los Angeles City College. She would become Jim's girlfriend for the next 5 years until his death in 1971. Pamela took the name Morrison later on in their relationship. On July 2, 1971, Jim and Pamela went to see a movie. After the movie, they returned to their apartment in Paris. Jim went to bed and awoke sometime later coughing and complaining of chest pains. He then decided to take a bath. At approximatley 5:00 a.m. on July 3, 1971, Pamela found Jim dead in their bathroom. Pamela died April 25, 1974, in her Hollywood apartment of a heroin overdose. Despite the fact that her parents were going to have her buried with Jim at Pere-Lachaise cemetery (Paris, France), and the fact that her father listed it as the place of burial on her death certifricate, there was too much red tape involved in transporting a body to a foreign country for burial. Her parents had her cremated remains buried at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana, California. (bio by: Fan of the Site)

Cause of death: Heroin overdose

Search Amazon for Pamela Susan Morrison
Fairhaven Memorial Park
Santa Ana
Orange County
California, USA
Plot: Garden courts, compartment 164


If you are interested in learning more about Pam and/or her relationship with Jim, I personally recommend the book Angels Dance and Angels Die. I own the book and I've read many different perspectives on Jim's life but of all the books out there, I think this one is the most accurate, unbiased, real portrayal I've read. It's interesting, it's honest, and it gives new perspective on this couple that has been steeped in myth and mystery for the last four decades. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I have a good excuse....

I know I have been neglecting my blog these past couple of weeks and to anyone who follows, I am sorry. At this point life is crazy and anything that does not have a deadline set is being put on the back burner in order to get everything done. Packing, organizing, tying up loose ends, and everything with class has taken up most of my time. My writing, my blog, my time on goodreads and shelfari, and my reading have all been terribly neglected. Books that usually take me three days to read are sitting around two weeks after I first opened them with only forty pages finished. As soon as my family and I are in our new place (which is now looking like the first of next month) things will go back to normal with the posts once a week. In the meantime, when I get a chance I will post. While packing up my old things at mom's house, I found two short stories I had written when I was about 15 years old. I think when everything is settled, I might post them here just for shits and giggles. I will do a little bit of editing, just grammar and the like, but otherwise I will not clean them up. This will be your chance to see exactly how much I've grown in nine years. haha So if you just bare with me, my beloved internet pals, I will try to find ways to make it worth your while. :)